Asheville Asks: Does the City offer programs for litter collection?

blue and green questions marks as background with title Asheville Asks

The City of Asheville now offers several programs for litter collection within city limits. Additional litter collection services will make a positive impact on the general cleanliness of our community and lessen any potential negative effects of debris and waste on our environment.


Central Business District Cleanliness

A downtown cleanliness contract has been in existence since 2013. This contract provides sidewalk pressure washing, as well as litter collection, street receptacle cleaning, and weed removal in the Central Business District.


Street Receptacles for Trash & Recycling

The City’s Sanitation Division provides over 135 trash/recycling receptacles downtown and in West Asheville, many of which have pet waste bags and cigarette receptacles attached. There are 9 trash receptacles in Biltmore Village. Additional receptacles are provided and maintained by Parks & Recreation in parks, including areas like Pritchard Park and Pack Square Plaza, and by the City’s bus contractor at bus stops.


Roadside Litter Collection 

The City launched a new roadside litter collection service on March 27, 2023. The roadside litter collection program addresses litter in the Right of Way and ‘hotspots’ – meaning, areas where a larger pile of litter or illegal dumping has been left. This program was established due to the need in our community to improve cleanliness throughout neighborhoods and communities in City limits, particularly outside of the Central Business District. The program was funded by ARPA funds that total $300,000. 


Biohazard Litter Collection

The City will launch a biohazard litter collection program in 2023. The program will address potentially biohazardous litter, including needles, feces, or drug paraphernalia and will also be used to clean City properties where loitering or trespassing has occurred. Recent examples include clean up of a property where a fire started during a drug-cooking operation and cleaning parking lots where cleaning needs were beyond the capacity of City staff.  This program will be funded by ARPA funds that total $200,000. 


Encampment site clean up

Camping is not currently sanctioned or allowed on City property. If an encampment site is to be cleaned, City procedures will be followed prior to cleaning, including: extensive outreach from partners at Homeward Bound; offer of support services; and notice so that individuals have an opportunity to move their belongings. Additionally, a new Purple Bag pilot program (see below) has been implemented to provide those experiencing homelessness with a waste disposal option. If you have a community concern around homelessness that you feel is ongoing that needs attention, or you wish to find out more information about how to support people experiencing homelessness, please email your concern to

Per National Alliance to End Homelessness recommendations, the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee and staff are currently working on an encampment resolution policy, and through that process, expect to see more extensive support and services available to encampments and to people experiencing homelessness, including improved access to sanitation services. 

In the meantime, there are areas that are already littered that need to be addressed.  The City absolutely understands that cleanliness issues are a multi-faceted problem that requires a holistic and community-centered approach. Currently, there are City properties and roadways that need to be cleaned up, and these contracts will be implemented simultaneously and in conjunction with coordinated work on better ways to both prevent roadside litter and to address encampments. Programs addressing homelessness funded by ARPA funds can be found here


Purple Bag Pilot Program

The City launched a purple bag pilot program on March 23, 2023. The purpose of this program is to distribute purple trash bags to members of the community who are experiencing homelessness to collect and dispose of their waste. This program has many benefits: 

  • Provides a method for people experiencing homelessness to collect and dispose of waste.
  • Reduces litter and associated negative environmental and health impacts.
  • Alternative color alerts City staff to the need for collection and improves staff safety during collection.
  • Provides an interim solution to an immediate sanitation issue while more robust recommendations on encampment resolution are developed.

There are numerous waste haulers in our community and traditional black bags set out by the curb are collected by any private haulers. A unique color alerts City staff that we are responsible for collection. The pilot program does not document or sanction camps. 

Our pilot program is supported by the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (HIAC) Outreach and Encampment Response group, and is meant to be an interim option to help solve sanitation issues while more permanent solutions are developed and recommended by HIAC.


Ways to prevent litter

  • Bag residential trash before placing it in the trash cart. Loose, lightweight trash can blow out during service if not bagged. (Do not bag recycling.)
  • Do not overfill trash or recycling carts. Overflowing carts lead to litter. Contact Sanitation if you need additional carts, 828-259-5857.
  • Keep the backs of vehicles free of loose debris and tarp all loads before hauling.
  • Be BearWise. Use BearWise tips to reduce animal/trash interactions and/or sign up to get a bear-resistant cart from the City at this link.


Ways to participate

  • Asheville GreenWorks supports public clean ups as well as DIY cleanups, providing residents with supplies for roadside and neighborhood cleanups. More information regarding these events can be found at this link
  • The Spring Sweep will be held through April 15-29, 2023. Spring Sweep is hosted by the City of Asheville, AVL GreenWorks, and NCDOT.  More information and registration can be found at this link. 


Where to report litter? 

Community members are able to report roadside litter concerns through multiple platforms: 


Reports of litter along roadways not served by the City of Asheville will be passed through established communications systems to NCDOT for response or service.