Toter Trash Cart FAQ's

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Current Size: 80%

1. What is the Toter trash cart program?  Public Works is improving the way we collect trash!  Through the Toter trash cart program, Public Works has provided to each residence and business that has City trash collection service a Toter trash cart for their trash collection service starting in April 2021.  The sanitation trucks have been retrofitted with a mechanical tipper arm on the back to pick up the Toter trash cart and empty it into the truck.   The Toter trash carts are the property of Harrisonburg Public Works department, provided for use at the specific address.  


2. Why did the City start the Toter trash cart program?  There are many reasons, the primary ones are:

  • This new program improves aesthetics at the curbside by having a single look to the trash containers set out for collection
  • The trash carts have lids to keep the refuse contained within the cart, and critters out
  • The tipper on the Sanitation trucks to lift and empty the cart will relieve much of the physical stress on the Sanitation crew (in 2019 the Sanitation crew handled more than 1 million pounds of trash, EACH), and
  • The Toter trash cart program will enable the City to make progress in our Environmental Action Plan (EAP) goals.


3. When did the Toter trash cart program start?  It started April 2021.  Only trash set out in a Toter trash cart with the Harrisonburg Public Works logo will be collected, with a few exceptions.  See question 7 for more information.  


4. What size are the Toter trash carts?  Residents who have Public Works trash collection service will have three (3) options to choose from to allow you to select the option that best fits your needs.

  • One 48-gallon Toter trash cart.  No additional fee. Or,
  • One 96-gallon Toter trash cart.  No additional fee. Or,
  • Two 96-gallon Toter trash carts.  Additional monthly fee applies for the extra cart.

Commercial businesses that have Public Works trash collection service will have several options to choose from to allow you to select the best option for your business's needs. 

  • One 48-gallon Toter trash cart.  No additional fee. Or,
  • One 96-gallon Toter trash cart.  No additional fee. Or,
  • Additional 96-gallon Toter trash carts.  Additional monthly fee applies for the extra cart.


5. Will it be big enough?  You will have the choice of either a 48- or 96-gallon Toter trash cart.  The 48-gallon holds about three (3) tall kitchen bags. The 96-gallon holds about the same amount as two and a half 35-gallon trash cans.  For most, one of the Toter trash carts will be more than enough for your weekly trash.   One way to reduce the amount of trash you set out each week is to recycle and compost.  Harrisonburg Public Works offers, for your recycling convenience, the Mobile Recycling Unit and Recycling Convenience Center at 2055 Beery Road.  Many categories of items are recyclable, learn more about recycling offered by the City and composting at the public drop-off location near City Hall collected by Climate Action Alliance of the Valley.


6. What are the dimensions?

Image of 96 and 48 gallon toters with dimensions

7. What if I have more than will fit in my Toter trash cart?  If you have an instance where you have more trash than the bin can hold you can purchase a tag from the Treasurer’s Office in the municipal building downtown, or Public Utilities (Water) Department at 2055 Beery Rd.  These are single-use stickers, available for $1 each, that you would affix to each additional bag of trash.  The stickers do not have an expiration date so you can pre-purchase stickers to have on hand for when you need them. Also, keep in mind the more you recycle and compost the more room you will have for other refuse in your Toter trash cart.  Recycle more, waste less.  If you regularly have more than will fit into one Toter trash cart, you can request a second cart.  An additional monthly fee will apply for the servicing of the extra cart.  See question 9 for more information.


8. Can I have a second cart? Yes, residents can have a second 96-gallon Toter trash cart (for a total of two 96-gallon trash carts), an additional monthly fee will apply for the servicing of the extra Toter trash cart.  Commercial business locations can have additional 96-gallon Toter trash carts, an additional monthly fee will apply for each extra cart.  Remember, the Toter's are provided to the serviced address, not to the occupant.  This means if you move, the Toter stays at the address to which it was issued.


9. What are the “additional fees” that apply?  In an effort to reach the Environmental Action Plan Focus Area 5, Goal 1 “Support and promote the reduction of refuse in landfills” there will be a fee for those who need more than one Toter trash cart.  There will be an additional monthly fee for the servicing of the extra cart.  Commercial accounts will also see an additional monthly fee depending upon the number of extra carts they choose.   


10. Will my fee change? In January of 2021, Public Works put into effect a rate change, most residents saw a $1 overall decrease in their bill.  For fee details call Public Works at 540-434-5928.


11. Isn’t this going to cost money? It is, but the initial cost will be offset by increased efficiencies over time.


12. If it is going to be more efficient shouldn’t my fee decrease?  A letter sent in early August 2020 announced fee changes going into effect on January 1, 2021, which reduced most residents' overall fee by $1. 


13. Is it easy to move?  The Toter trash carts are built with wheels to make the movement of the cart easy for the user.  Toter has this to say about the design “Rugged wheels make Toter cans easy to maneuver; ergonomic design leads to easy to tilt and roll, even when full.”  You also have the choice of a 48- or 96-gallon cart.


14. It’s so big.  Where will I put it?  Where you choose to keep your Toter trash cart is up to you, as long as it is out of public view on your property.  Out of public view could mean storing the Toter in a garage, around the side of your residence, behind a fence, or behind landscaping. Remember, Toters should only be out at the curb for collection.  They should be pulled back after your trash has been collected, and set out of view of the public until the next collection day.


15. Can I leave the Toter at the curb all the time?  That guideline will remain the same, you should place the Toter trash cart on the back of the curb on the property line by 7:00am on the collection day and not before 4:00pm on the day prior to pick up.  If you have a medical issue that prevents you from being able to get your trash to the curb call our office, 540-434-5928, we may be able to help.   You can also build an enclosed corral (behind the right-of-way) to hold your cart between trash collection days.   *If you are in the Downtown District Toter's need to be stored out of sight until after 6am for the first run of collection but before 11am for the second run of collection on your trash collection day.  Toter's are not to be left out overnight in the Downtown District.  City Code 6-2-28 says Empty Toter's "shall be removed from the pickup point on the same day as collection and placed in storage out of view from the public street."  


16. Is bulk item and yard debris collection going to change?  The assigned Wednesdays will remain as they are; if your trash is picked up on Monday or Thursday your bulk/yard debris collection is the 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month.  If your trash is collected on a Tuesday or Friday, your bulk/yard debris collection is the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month.  Up to 10 biodegradable yard bags or bundles of yard debris will still be allowed for collection.  Yard debris is only to be put out in biodegradable yard debris bags or tied bundles in lengths of four (4) feet or less. Bulk items should be set out on the curb for collection, up to 5 pieces.  You can also bring bulk items and yard debris to the Recycling Convenience Center on Beery Rd.  


17. What do I do with the trash cans I have now?  ONLY trash set out in the City-issued Toter trash cart (you will need to make sure the lid is closed) will be collected from the curbside on your trash day.  If you do not have a repurpose use for your existing trash can(s), you can bring your trash can to the Recycling Convenience Center.  If your trash can is recyclable they will recycle it.  If it isn't recyclable they will dispose of it for you.  You can also set your existing trash can(s) out on the curb on your bulk trash collection Wednesday with a note asking us to please take the can.


18. Will my trash day stay the same?  For most of the City the trash day will remain the same.  The area on the Northside of West Market Street, near Thomas Harrison Middle School, will be changing.   Trash should be placed out at the curb by 7:00am on your designated trash day, no earlier than 4:00pm the day prior.  You have a trash day, not a trash time as weather, routes, and staffing varies.


19. How does this program address EAP goals?  It will address EAP goals through:

  • Cleaner streets and streams due to the lidded trash carts containing loose debris,
  • Reduction of the tonnage of refuse to the landfill through the reduction of the amount of trash included in standard collection,
  • Improved efficiencies of trash collection,
  • Encouragement of recycling and composting, keeping those materials out of the landfill.


20. What if something breaks?  For regular wear and tear maintenance of the Toter trash cart the Public Works department will handle the maintenance.


21. What if my Toter trash cart is damaged or goes missing?  You are responsible for the Toter trash cart provided for use at your address.  If the Toter trash cart requires replacement (for reasons beyond normal wear and tear) you will be charged the cost of a new Toter trash cart.  Be sure to put your address number on the white rectangle on the lid of the cart to identify which address it services. 


22. How will I know which Toter was provided for use at my address if they all look the same? The Toter trash cart will have an area on the lid where you should write your street address number, or use number stickers, which will visually connect the Toter to the address it serves.  There are to be no other markings made on the Toter trash carts.  We ask that you write your street address number, legibly (or apply number stickers), on the address area on the lid as soon as you receive your Toter trash cart. Image of lid of Toter trash cart showing address number legibly on lid in white space


23. Can I spray paint the Toter to make it easier to identify?  No.  There should be no markings made on the Toter trash carts.  There will be an area on the lid where you can write your street address number.  Toter trash carts will also have RFID’s (radio frequency identification chips) embedded in them.  These will allow us to scan the Toter trash cart to determine to which service address it belongs if the address number is not indicated on the lid.  We ask each user to mark, legibly, their street address number on the lid of the Toter trash cart as soon as they receive it.


24. What if the property is a rental with multiple units?   The Toter trash cart lid should be marked with the appropriate street number and unit identifier(s) to prevent confusion.  Please be sure to write legibly or use number stickers.


25. Does the Toter trash cart belong to me?  It does not, the Toter trash cart(s) are the property of Harrisonburg Public Works Department and are provided to the serviced address, not to the property occupant.  This means if you move, the Toter trash cart(s) remain at the property for the next occupant.  As the occupant of the service address, you are responsible for maintaining the Toter trash cart in good condition.


26. What if I need to change the size I selected?  You can certainly change the Toter trash cart you use; as long as the Toter trash cart you return is in good condition we will do an exchange if we have the desired size on hand.  If it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear, you will be charged for the Toter on your next bill.  We ask that you use the one you receive for a few weeks.  If after a few weeks you determine it is not what you need, give us a call in May and if we have what you need on hand we will gladly swap sizes.


27. I didn't make a Toter selection, will I get a Toter?  Yes!  Anyone who did not make a selection will have a 96-gallon Toter trash cart provided for the serviced address. Each address serviced by Harrisonburg Public Works trash collection (other than a few exceptions in the Downtown District) will receive a Toter trash cart.   


28. How should I place the Toter trash cart on the curb for collection? You should place your Toter out for collection with the handle facing toward where the sanitation truck will pick up your trash.  Thank you for taking a little extra time to help out the sanitation crews.


29. Do I need to put my trash in a bag or can I put loose trash in the Toter for collection? We recommend using trash bags and placing the closed bags in the Toter trash cart for delivery.  This will help contain the trash should the lid come open, and help keep "trash juice" from coating the inside of the Toter.  We recognize that there may be times where there is loose trash in the Toter, we just ask that you put bagged trash over it to help keep it contained should the lid come open.


30. I only have one small bag of trash, do I still need to use the Toter?  Yes! Trash needs to be in the Toter trash cart for collection, even if it is just one small bag. This will help keep our streets and streams cleaner and keep our sanitation crews safer.


31. Should I clean out the Toter periodically? YES! The Toter should be rinsed out regularly to prevent organisms from growing and it will help prevent "trash juice" from accumulating and it will keep the smell down.  Please do not use chemicals to clean the Toter as they are will end up in our storm sewer system and harm our local waterways.  A mixture of vinegar and baking soda is recommended if a simple spray out with a garden hose is not enough.


Have other questions? Contact us at:


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320 East Mosby Road
Harrisonburg, VA 22801