If there's one thing your citizens will do, it's produce garbage. All peopled buildings in your city, public and private, will produce garbage that needs to be disposed of, either stored in a landfill or processed by an incinerator or recycling center. Every building will have a level of garbage accumulation (viewable in the garbage interface). If this level gets too high, then you will be notified that "garbage has piled up". If left unaddressed, this can cause a building to become abandoned. The mechanics of garbage disposal are very similar to those of deathcare.
Garbage disposal buildings will spawn garbage trucks (15 from each landfill or recycling center, 27 from each incinerator), which drive around your streets emptying buildings of their garbage. Garbage trucks don't actually stop to collect garbage, but will empty homes just by driving past them. Once a truck is full it will unload at the landfill or incinerator.
- 1 Accumulation
- 2 Buildings
- 3 Recycling
- 4 Removing and emptying landfills
- 5 Strategy
- 6 Garbage Not Being Collected
Garbage accumulation can happen due to the following interrelated circumstances:
- there is insufficient dumping or incinerating capacity to deal with the city's production of garbage.
- there aren't enough garbage trucks to collect all the city's garbage.
- your city's transportation system is inadequate and the trucks cannot efficiently go about their rounds.
- you have buildings outside of your garbage collection network
Although garbage services use trucks, they are exempt from the Heavy Traffic Ban policy.
Once a landfill is 100% full, its 15 trucks will not be deployed, even if your remaining garbage infrastructure could use them. These trucks will however be deployed again if you choose to empty a landfill.
Steam Workshop modifications can be used to automatically empty landfills once they reach their capacity. In addition, custom garbage disposal facilities, including recycling centers and custom incinerators, can be downloaded from the Steam Workshop.
Policies for Reducing Garbage Accumulation
There are a number of policies that can help your city deal with garbage.
It is important to note that educated citizens generate less garbage than uneducated ones. A good school system and use of some Education Policies will therefore indirectly reduce garbage creation.
School of Environmental Studies
|Available only with the Campus DLC enabled.|
|Floating Garbage Collector||Big City||50,000||1,120||0||10||0||0||4×4||Lessens water pollution. A floating building. Must be placed on water.Has nothing to do with garbage at all. When placed in contaminated water it removes the sewage pollution around it.|
|Incineration Plant||Big Town||30,000||1,440||100||50||192||0||5×4||-||Eliminates garbage and produces a small amount of electricity as well as a significant amount of pollution.Garbage truck capacity: 27Capacity: 400,000Processing rate: 48,000/weekPower Output: 12 MW|
|Landfill Site||Little Hamlet||4,000||160||100||0||0||0||8×10||-||Accumulates garbage until it is full, and pollutes the surrounding area. Storage only.Garbage truck capacity: 15Capacity: 8,000,000Can only be moved or demolished when empty.|
|Recycling Center||Little Hamlet||16,000||240||25||10||240||240||7×4||Eliminates garbage and produces resources which can be exported or get distributed to industrial buildings that require them. It pollutes the surrounding area less than the incinerator or landfill.Garbage truck capacity: 15Capacity: 200,000Processing Rate: 24,000/weekProduces small amounts of raw materials from the waste.|
|Ultimate Recycling Plant||Megalopolis||750,000||8,000||0||80||640||0||16×8||MonumentProcessing Rate: 480,000 / weekPower Output: 60 MWGarbage Truck Capacity: 100|
|64pxWaste Disposal Unit||Big Town||30,000||1,440||100||50||192||0||13×12||Eliminates garbage and produces a small amount of electricity as well as a significant amount of pollution.Garbage truck capacity: 27Capacity: Processing rate: 48,000/weekPower Output: 12 MW|
|Waste Processing Complex||Grand City||100,000||5,400||250||100||480||0||16×16||Picks up garbage from Landfills and Waste Transfer Facilities. Cannot collect garbage from other buildings.Produces recycled material. Produces energy from incinerated garbage.Processing Rate: 192,000 / weekPower Output: 40 MWWaste Transfer Truck Capacity: 15|
|Waste Transfer Facility||Grand City||20,000||240||10||25||240||480||10×6||Capacity: 250,000Garbage Truck Capacity: 20|
Custom garbage disposal buildings are available on the Steam Workshop.
|Available only with the Green Cities DLC enabled.|
The Recycling Center produces less pollution than the landfill and garbage incinerator, while also producing small amounts of raw materials from the waste. Those purple goods can ship to commercial or export.
- In fact, goods are effectively produced before the Recycling Center processes the garbage. When a recycling truck finishes picking up garbage it gets flagged as carrying goods and changes from a service vehicle to a goods truck. Shown purple to brown in the routing infoview. 
The capacity and processing rate is half that of an incinerator, and only own half of the trucks. The cost for two recycling centers is slightly more than an incinerator, but the ongoing operating costs are significantly less for the two recycling centers.
The recycling garbage trucks are biofuel operated and make less noise than the standard garbage trucks fielded by the incinerator and landfill.
The “Recycle Plastic” policy causes Recycling Centers to work with +20% efficiency, for a cost of ₡100/Recycling Center/week.
Ultimate Recycling Plant Monuments
The Ultimate Recycling Plant monument produces no pollution at all, but is the noisiest of all garbage related buildings. It also produces electricity, and fields a large number of recycling garbage trucks.
Removing and emptying landfills
You cannot bulldoze or move a landfill that is not empty. You can switch a full or partially full landfill to an emptying mode. The garbage trucks will start relocating the garbage to an incinerator or to another landfill. Once empty, you are able to bulldoze or move the landfill. An emptied landfill will not collect new garbage until you turn off emptying mode.
The amount of electricity that incinerators produce is pretty negligible, at 12MW maximum it is less than that generated by a well-positioned advanced wind turbine.
Landfill vs Incinerator
Once full, landfill sites will not aid garbage processing regardless of whether they are switched on or off. Switching off landfill sites saves the city treasury from needlessly paying their upkeep cost.
At maximum capacity a single incinerator will take over three years to burn the contents of a single full landfill site. However, if sufficient funds are available, a problematic landfill site can be emptied quicker by servicing it with multiple incinerators. Making the road connections as short as possible, and isolating these buildings from the rest of the city will ensure maximum efficiency.
Incinerators have no excess burn capacity - their own trucks are more than capable of maxing out the monthly burn rate. As such there is little point to emptying and refilling landfills, this will simply cause the incinerator trucks to go unused. Once incinerators become available the optimal strategy for most cities is likely to be to switch to an incinerator-only garbage system (or "Recycling Centers" from the "Green Cities" DLC). In theory, incinerators are essential - in a city which only used landfill sites the space taken up by landfill would rise without limit.
Garbage Overlay View
The garbage overlay view gives a visual indicator of your garbage production vs incineration capacity. If your incineration capacity is in the red, you should build more incinerators. If the capacity is in the green, yet garbage is still piling up, it indicates that there are road connectivity or congestion problems preventing or delaying garbage trucks from collecting garbage. In this case building more incinerators will be of little use, however it may be useful to relocate existing incinerators to be closer to where the garbage is generated.
While it is useful to distribute garbage facilities around the city for efficient pickup and minimal congestion, the pollution they cause can be troublesome. This is especially true if it leaches into residential zones, resulting in citizen sickness. Commercial, office, and specialized forestry and farming industrial zones are more tolerant, but pollution will tend to limit their levelling up to level 2 (except in the latter two cases). Aside from isolated areas, garbage buildings will have least impact when nested in generic industrial or specialized ore and oil industrial zones, where their pollution will be similar to that of the surrounding buildings.
Garbage Not Being Collected
There are a number of reasons that garbage may not get collected.
- There must be road access for the garbage trucks. A new part of the city may not yet have a road connection, or a disaster could destroy a section of road. A one-way street can prevent access.
- If the garbage production is greater than the amount being collected, new garbage collection facilities should solve the problem. A full landfill will obviously not collect any garbage. Incinerators or Recycling Centers that are near full will not send out the full number of trucks. Check Garbage in the info view panel.
- Excessive traffic may block garbage trucks and delay pickup long enough for cims to complain and move out.
- There is a limit to the number of vehicles that can be present in the game at any one time. If a city population becomes very large, or if there are too many trucks doing import/export, the city may reach this limit. This will cause garbage trucks (as well as other service vehicles) to be unable to spawn. Adding new facilities or increasing their budget will not help. (There are mods that can show the limits and the current numbers, but they cannot increase the limits. It is possible to reserve some of the vehicle count for service vehicles with a mod.)
- A mod may cause the problem. If you are using mods, try loading the game with NoWorkshop or DisableMods.