SimCity 131: Pollution and Waste

Pollution is an important part of any city. Your citizens live in an industrialized society, so they make tons of waste. In addition, to produce the goods they're going to throw away later, industrial plants grind through thousands of BTUs of energy -- energy usually produced with coal or oil.

Pollution will make your people ill, so make sure you have hospitals in high-pollution areas and that you plan accordingly at the beginning of the game to limit how much pollution you'll be producing later.

Ground Pollution

This is both litter from high-traffic areas as well as chemical seepage from things like factories and sewage pipes.

Air Pollution

Traffic congestion causes air pollution as idling cars cough their exhaust into the atmosphere above your city. Additionally, industrial zones also produce smog from their smokestacks. Making sure that there is no traffic jams in front of your factories is the first step in limiting air pollution. Additionally, you can plant forests to clear the air and disperse industrial zones if the air gets thick enough to cut with a knife.


Here's what the info pop-up in the sewage HUD has to say about managing human waste:

  • Sims create sewage
  • Sewage outlet pipes collect sewage but don't treat it
  • Uncollected sewage creates ground pollution
  • Germs from ground pollution make Sims sick and unhappy
  • Excess sewage capacity can be sold to neighbors
  • Set up a sewage deal with a neighbor in Region View

The short version: people poop. Therefore, when you pull ten or twenty thousand of them into a brand new city, you better have a place to put all the poop if you want to keep your sparkly new city clean and healthy. Pick a distant spot and plop down a sewage outlet pipe (or, even better, a treatment center) to handle the problem.

Water Pollution

More to come.


One garbage center with plenty of garbage trucks is usually all you need for an average-sized city (10- 25,000 population). However, as the garbage begins to pile up, you will need to add dump sites.

When you roll over the info pop-up icon in the garbage HUD, you will get the following advice:

  • Sims create garbage
  • Garbage will become ground pollution if not collected
  • Excess garbage drives customers away and increases injuries and sickness
  • Neighbor cities can provide garbage coverage free of charge
  • Recycling centers will separate recycling from garbage
  • Recycling centers only pick up recycling; garbage dumps pick up garbage
  • Recycling reduces pollution, reduces garbage, and generates resources
  • Homeless are attracted to garbage at buildings making them less effective
  • Garbage dump will fill over time and can be expanded with modules

What's interesting here is that garbage can become an asset once you build the recycling center. This ploppable will allow you to separate out recyclable materials that you can then sell. This has the dual effect of reducing the amount of garbage in your landfill and generating revenue.

Leaving garbage around your city is very bad. After a water tower and an electrical station, addressing the current and future garbage needs of your city should be your next step at the beginning of your city.

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