Starting Monday, Charlotte banning plastic bags for yard waste

CHARLOTTE — The city of Charlotte’s paper bag mandate for yard waste begins Monday, July 5.

Residents who want leaves, grass clippings, small limbs, brush, and similar items collected must use compostable paper bags or reusable personal containers no larger than 32 gallons and no heavier than 75 pounds.

The city’s announcement points to the environmental impacts of plastic bags and operational efficiency as the two reasons for the change.

Single-use plastic bags have several negative environmental impacts in their creation and disposal, but paper bags save natural resources and energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the city said in a release.

“All the houses in Charlotte that are using plastic bags are creating a lot of waste that’s probably not needed, and I think this is probably a good step.” said NoDa resident Eric Evans.

Since Charlotte’s 2016 fiscal year, the amount of yard waste in the city has increased by 30%. Also, the facility where yard waste is disposed does not accept yard waste in plastic bags. This means that staff members must take the contents of the bags out at the curb, which lengthens collection times, making it hard to complete routes on their scheduled days.

“A lot more easier, a lot more efficient,” Solid Waste Services Director Rodney Jamison said. “To make this adjustment is beneficial to us all.”

It can take nearly 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose at a landfill, compared to the one month it takes for a paper bag.

What to expect beginning July 5

Beginning July 5, Solid Waste Services will no longer accept yard waste in plastic bags. If residents use plastic bags after this date, Solid Waste Services will leave a note reminding them 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.

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.

Charlotte residents may also use a Leaf Burrito. The Charlotte company sells reusable containers that hold 4-6 bags worth of leaves. The bag has handles and numerous zippers to make loading and unloading easy.

“Made in America, there is nothing else like this in the country that is better,” Leaf Burrito owner Marc Mataya said. “It’s just faster and easier. It actually makes yard work fun.”

Where can you buy paper bags and containers?

Paper yard bags and reusable personal containers no larger than 32 gallons can be bought at local discount, hardware and home improvement stores. Only compostable paper yard waste bags will be accepted. Compostable plastic bags are not accepted as they are not accepted by the yard waste disposal site because they compromise the integrity of the compost product, the city said.

In addition to local stores, beginning July 5, there will 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 at any of Mecklenburg County’s full-service recycling centers.

For more information on the mandate, please click here.

(WATCH BELOW: Mounds of yard waste piling up on curbs after COVID-19 slows down pickup)