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City of Charlotte announces ban on plastic bags for yard waste collection

City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services announced a paper bag mandate for yard waste collection starting this summer.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The next time you go to clean up your yard, you're going to want paper bags or your own container for all the waste. 

That's because the City of Charlotte announced a paper bag mandate starting July 5, 2021. The mandate requires residents who receive city collection to use compostable paper bags or reusable personal containers no larger than 32 gallons for yard waste collection. Yard waste includes leaves, grass clippings, small limbs and brush.

Paper bags and reusable personal containers can be purchased at local discount, hardware and home improvement stores. Starting July 5, there will also be a limited supply of paper bags available for pick up, at no cost, at the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services’ office (1105 Otts Street) and any of the Mecklenburg County full-service recycling centers.

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Credit: David Flower/City of Charlotte

So what happens if you use a plastic bag after July 5? Solid Waste Services will leave a note reminding residents of the change and provide a one-time courtesy collection. If residents continue to use plastic bags, they could be subject to a minimum $150 fine per the Charlotte City Code.

RELATED: 5 common household items you can recycle to protect the planet

Residents also have the option of disposing of yard waste by taking the items, in paper bags or reusable containers, to one of the four Mecklenburg County full-service recycling centers. Fees may be charged when disposing at the full-service centers.

RELATED: The city of Charlotte may be looking through your recycle bin

The city said the environmental impacts of plastic bags, as well as operational efficiency, were factors in this change. The city also stated that the yard waste disposal facility does not accept yard waste in plastic bags. This requires Solid Waste staff to debag leaves at the curb, which increases collection times and makes it difficult to complete routes on the scheduled day of collection.

"There are sometimes we get to a home and there are over 200 bags at a residence,” said Rodney Jamison, director of Solid Waste Services. "We have to debag every plastic bag at the curb at the residence. It's very time consuming, [and] a lot of injuries occur due to that.”

Jamison said the pandemic has only made their work harder.

"We used to have three people on a truck now we had to minimize it to two, so it takes even longer," Jamison said.

The paper bags are biodegradable and can be taken straight from the curb to the compost facility. It also prevents plastic from accidentally getting mixed up with yard waste and shredded into pieces, a problem the county is currently dealing with.

"Change is hard, just bare with us and assist us with this change and difference, it’ll benefit us all,” Jamison said.

For more information on the mandate, please visit cltgov.me/yardwaste.