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Public Works & Assets Newsroom


Yard Waste Plastic Bag Ban Begins January 1, 2015

Tuesday May 27, 2014

The Louisville-Jefferson County Waste Management District Board of Directors has set January 1, 2015 as the date to begin enforcement of a regulation that bans the use of plastic bags for yard waste. A period of education and outreach begins immediately and will continue until enforcement begins.

The regulation, passed by the board on May 6, specifies the use of reusable containers, paper bags, or compostable bags for yard waste collection in Jefferson County. The regulation prohibits collection of yard waste in plastic bags that are not compostable.

The education and outreach are designed to make sure that citizens are aware of the regulation and to help them choose among five recommended yard waste disposal options.

The regulation applies throughout Jefferson County. When enforcement begins on January 1, yard waste collectors will be permitted to pickup only yard waste that it is in approved containers. Methods approved for handling yard waste are as follows, in order of preference:

  • Mulch and/or compost yard clippings to eliminate cost and need for yard waste collection;
  • Place yard waste in reusable containers, such as an old garbage can, to reduce the need for continual purchase of single-use bags;
  • Place yard waste in paper bags designed for yard waste collection;
  • Place yard waste in compostable plastic bags that meet ASTM D6400 standards;
  • Use seasonal drop-off centers for yard waste

As waste haulers encounter plastic bags during the education period they will collect the bags but leave educational material behind. When enforcement begins, yard waste in plastic bags will not be collected and residents could be subject to fines and cleanup fees.

The regulation addresses contamination of yard waste caused by an abundance of plastic bags that prevent yard waste from being processed into desirable compost and mulch.

Contamination caused by plastic bags leads to 32,000 tons of yard waste being added to area landfills each year despite a 1994 ordinance requiring that the waste not be landfilled. The new regulation removes the barrier that has prevented compliance with the ordinance.

Composting yard waste instead of dumping it will extend the useful life of area landfills, reduce fees charged to Metro Government and increase the quantity of locally generated compost.

Similar rules are already in place in surrounding cities such as Cincinnati, Lexington, Columbus and Nashville. The yard waste container regulation is an initiative of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

More information about the yard waste container regulation is available online at www.louisvilleky.gov/SolidWaste.