News Flash

Roanoke News

Posted on: March 1, 2021

Stormwater Utility Launches Campaign to Reduce Cigarette Butt Litter Downtown

If it’s in the streets, it’s in our streams


Beginning March 1, 2021, the City of Roanoke’s Stormwater Utility will launch a campaign to address the reduction of cigarette butt waste in the Central Business District. This campaign is in partnership with Clean Valley Council, Downtown Roanoke Inc., Roanoke Arts Commission, Keep Virginia Beautiful, and the Solid Waste Division.

The campaign will kick off on March 1 with a jingle competition to tap into our great local musical talent, as a way to share the message of reducing litter. Submissions must be original tunes and lyrics that encourage your neighbors to keep cigarette butts and trash off the streets. The top five jingles will be awarded $100 Downtown Roanoke gift cards. Learn more about the jingle competition here!

Although cigarette butts as litter may seem like a small problem, it has been an increasing issue in the downtown Central Business District. Not only does litter affect the downtown experience, but litter on City streets and sidewalks eventually makes its way into our local streams.

Cigarette butts are one of the most commonly littered items in the United States. At stormdrains, roughly 32% of litter consists of tobacco products. One of the common misconceptions is that cigarette butts are biodegradable, however they are made of a type of plastic that persists in the environment. In addition to the plastic itself, cigarette butts contain chemicals that leach into the environment and affect aquatic and plant life.

The goals of the campaign are to reduce cigarette litter downtown by making disposal more accessible, and to create an awareness by educating citizens on how their actions directly connect to local waterways. As well as promoting more sustainable methods of disposal by recycling cigarette butts through programs like Terracycle. 

Components of the campaign include:

  • Anti-littering jingle competition with the Roanoke Arts Commission and Downtown Roanoke Inc. – March 1-31, 2021
  • New cigarette butt receptacles and outreach placed downtown with help from the Clean Valley Council – April 2021
  • A focus on encouraging and implementing recycling cigarette butt waste – Summer 2021
  • Partnerships with business owners and downtown residents to implement creative ways to reduce cigarette butt litter with help from Downtown Roanoke Inc. – Summer 2021

For more information, contact Leigh Anne Weitzenfeld in the City’s Stormwater Utility at 540-853-5910 or by email at leighanne.weitzenfeld@roanokeva.gov.

About the Stormwater Utility

The Stormwater Utility was created to address water quality in the City of Roanoke. The City is mandated by federal and state agencies to control and eliminate stormwater pollution. Like many rivers across the country, the health of the Roanoke River is impaired from pollution. Pollutants wash into the stormdrain system and flow untreated into the nearest creek, ultimately reaching the Roanoke River. It is the City’s goal to work together with citizens to improve Roanoke's waterways so that they can be community assets for many years to come. 

About Clean Valley Council

Since 1978, CVC has brought together some of the area’s brightest minds to address environmental challenges and build support for addressing them. They work to foster collaboration among municipal agencies on issues ranging from stormwater pollution, renewable energy, and recycling challenges to protect shared natural resources.  

About Roanoke Arts Commission

Formed in 1983, the RAC has been heavily involved in the development and implementation of both the City of Roanoke’s first Public Art Plan, adopted by City Council in April of 2006, and the City’s first  Arts and Cultural Plan, adopted in 2011. RAC oversees the growth and development of public art projects in the City of Roanoke.

About Downtown Roanoke Inc.

Downtown Roanoke, Inc. (DRI)’s mission is to make Downtown Roanoke the preferred place to work, live and play. They work with partners to develop strategies, shape public policy and implement programs that strengthen the economic vitality of downtown. DRI is working to preserve the character of the past while pursuing an innovative future with the goal to continue to grow downtown Roanoke as the urban center of Western Virginia.

About Keep Virginia Beautiful

The mission at Keep Virginia Beautiful is to engage and unite Virginians to improve our natural and scenic environment. They empower groups and individuals to engage in environmental projects through grants, contests, events and training so that the collective effort keeps Virginia beautiful for generations to come.

About the Solid Waste Division

The City's Solid Waste Division is constantly adapting to new refuse management needs. The Division’s continued reduction of litter relies on creating effective partnerships to ensure the City of Roanoke is a great place to live, work, and play.    

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