Litter, Trash, Garbage

Remember. . .place your garbage and recycling in the proper containers or take it with you!

Littering is a serious problem in Chicago. The City spends millions of dollars each year to clean-up litter. In addition to the City's efforts, each spring and fall thousands of volunteers from many different organizations contribute hundreds of hours of time and energy to pickup litter.

Litter can cause neighborhoods to look rundown, contributing to declining property values. It also provides a breeding ground for disease carrying rats and insects.

Classroom Activity - Learn about Littering

Why Do People Litter?

Tips to Help Prevent Litter


Major Sources of Litter:

Construction and Demolition Sites:

Construction and demolition sites are another major source of litter. Construction material waste, worker trash, items falling from delivery and waste hauling vehicles, cement truck waste and excavation waste often have a major negative impact on the properties surrounding the job. Clean, orderly work sites are safer than trashy, disorderly work sites.

Loading Docks: 

Loading docks are another major source of litter. If you have a loading dock at your business, require your workers and delivery people to use waste cans and dumpsters for trash.

Shrink wrap, corrugated boxes, shipping documents, drink containers, fast food packaging and tobacco products and packaging are typical loading dock trash items.

Failing to keep loading docks clean could result in tickets and fines to the business responsible for the loading dock.


Individuals who do not use car litter bags or litter containers at rest areas, gas stations, and fast food stores will often use the road side as their garbage can. Motorists who litter from their vehicles are subject to tickets and fines.


Individuals who generate waste while walking, jogging, biking, etc., and do not wait to throw it in a trash could be fined or ticketed for littering.

Residential and Commercial Garbage

If trash containers or dumpsters do not have tight fitting lids, or no lids, then trash can be scattered by animals or the wind.

If you have a black city garbage cart without a lid or need an additional cart, please call and request one by dialing 311. If you have a dumpster picked up by a private waste hauler and the dumpster doesn't have a lid or is damaged in any way, call the waste hauler to have it replaced. Also, if you need additional containers, request them from your hauler.

If you observe a garbage container with overflowing garbage, please call 311 to report this sanitation violation or click the button above to make a report.

Truck Loads

Loads that are not tied down can release loose materials. Air pressure increases as trucks drive faster and loose materials can be blown off truck beds. Roads to the dumps and landfills are often easy to follow because of all the litter along the roadway. Trucks that allow material to fall off the truck are subject to fines and penalties.