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Plastic or paper is not an option in Charlotte for yard waste

To be environmentally friendly, the City of Charlotte went from plastic to paper for yard waste during the summer of 2021.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hints of autumn are beginning to pop up in Charlotte. 

Several neighborhoods have seen leaves scattered across front lawns and some yards are starting to pile up. Before you begin raking up leaves, know this: the City of Charlotte is enforcing its compostable brown paper bag mandate.

Paper or plastic is no longer an option for yard waste in the City of Charlotte. Solid Waste Services says to opt for paper bags, or they will not collect your yard waste.

To be environmentally friendly, the City of Charlotte went from plastic to paper for yard waste during the summer of 2021.

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“I didn’t see it coming, but if it’s going to cut down on waste, I’m all for it," Matt Caddell said. 

Caddell is on board with the city’s mandate. The city collected four brown paper bags from his home in south Charlotte on Tuesday.

RELATED: 'A better use of our time' | An expert explains why Charlotte's paper bag mandate for yard waste matters

Eric DeLaPena, Director of Operation for City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services, said he recognizes the compliance from the vast majority of residents. 

“We service 225,000 residents weekly," he said. "The vast majority of those residents will have bags out during this time of year."

Solid Waste Services projects a busy leaf season, and this fall will be the first one since the mandate was implemented on July 5.

“Plastic bags, we all hear the stories of how long they actually take to decompose," DeLaPena said. "The compostable paper bags, within 30 days they decompose."

DeLaPena also recommended using reusable containers as another option for your yard waste. However, your limit is 75 pounds. He said one rule of thumb to gauge the weight is if you can’t lift, it, it’s probably too heavy.

“You got two handfuls of leaves, how are you going to get it in there,” Caddell said.

Caddell said he wishes the city would supply a leaf and lawn chute to make the process more user-friendly. He explained how the sturdy piece of cardboard allows him to balance the paper bag upright.

“That way you can dump the leaves in it,” Caddell said.

Solid Waste Services will host a bag exchange event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1105 Otts Street, Charlotte, NC. Those interested can bring plastic bags in exchange for free 32-gallon compostable brown paper bags.

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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RELATED: Ditch the plastic bags: Paper bags or your own container needed to dispose of yard waste in Charlotte