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Litter Prevention


Are You Bitter About Litter?

Litter is ugly and it can harm people and wildlife. Picking up litter can be costly for cities and highway departments. But the good news is, litter is preventable! Roanoke is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Why not make it litter-free, and even more beautiful?

Here’s how you can help keep Roanoke clean:
  • Always bag trash securely before placing it in your “Big Blue” trash container, so the trash can’t blow away during trash collection and become litter. Ensure that recyclables can’t blow out of recycling bins.
  • Keep construction sites and loading docks clear of loose trash and debris that can be blown or washed away.
  • Keep a litter bag in your vehicle to prevent loose trash from blowing out of windows and doors.
  • Extinguish cigarette butts in ashcans and ashtrays. Cigarette butts thrown on the ground or out the window are litter, and most wash into our waterways, polluting streams and harming stream life. Cigarette butts can also be a fire hazard.
  • Keep your property litter- and debris-free. You will improve the appearance of your property and prevent the litter from blowing or washing onto someone else's.
  • Adopt a city park, greenway, or street to help keep public property free of litter. To become a volunteer in any of these programs, call 853-1801 or send an email to
  • The Sheriff's Office has an outside inmate work crew program that provides litter clean-up services. Anyone in the city can request that an inmate work crew help with litter clean-up on public property or the public right of way. Citizens may call 853-2941, or e-mail the Sheriff's Office at with the location.

Why do people litter?
People may litter because they feel no connection to the environment they are affecting. They may feel that what they are doing is harmless, or that someone else will pick up after them. Research has shown that people tend to litter more in areas where litter has already accumulated.

Where does litter come from?
Even though motorists or pedestrians are usually blamed for littering, litter is generated from many sources:
  • Loose trash in “Big Blues” or dumpsters can blow out and become litter during the trash collection process. Securing all trash in bags prevents this from happening.
  • Trash and debris at construction areas and loading docks that is not secured can blow or wash away.
  • Litter (and hazardous objects) can fall out of uncovered truck beds.
  • Motorists who throw trash or cigarette butts out of windows.
  • Pedestrians and picnickers who throw or leave trash on streets, sidewalks or in parks.
Is littering in Roanoke a crime?
Yes. In the city of Roanoke, littering is a violation of Sec. 14.1-3 of Roanoke City Code. It is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can carry a fine of up to $2500 per violation per day and confinement in jail for up to 12 months. These consequences are in addition to being billed for the cost of clean-up plus a $100 service charge.

In addition, property owners are responsible for keeping their real estate parcel and public right-of-way between their parcel and the curb or centerline of any alley litter-free. Failing to do so is in violation of Roanoke City Code Sec. 33-18, and is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $250 in addition to being billed for the cost of clean-up plus a $100 service charge.

Further Resources on Litter
Visit Keep America Beautiful's litter prevention website for more news and information about litter, as well as tips on what you can do to prevent littering in your area.