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Plastic Leaf Bags May Be a Thing of the Past in Fairfax County

by Karen Goff — May 16, 2016 at 11:30 am 16 Comments

Plastic yard bags/Credit: Amazon.comFairfax County is considering banning plastic lawn and leaf bags.

The county’s Solid Waste Program will be hosting a series of meetings with professional landscapers to discuss the elimination of plastic bags used for the curbside collection of leaves, lawn clippings and other yard waste.

Yard waste collected throughout the county is processed into mulch and compost products, but their quality is compromised by the presence of small pieces of plastic, Fairfax County says.

Here is the problem, according to Fairfax County Solid Waste officials:

Plastic bags have to be manually or mechanically ripped open for the material to be processed. These processes can be expensive and labor intensive. More importantly, neither method prevents small pieces of plastic from getting into the finished products. Prohibiting plastic bags for yard waste collections will help ensure the county provides high-quality end-products for use on residential lawns and gardens.

Since yard waste makes up most of the waste generated by landscapers, we would like to hear the industry’s thoughts on prohibiting the use of plastic bags when setting out yard waste for curbside collection.

All landscapers, industry representatives, and other interested parties are welcome to join in these discussions at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway starting at 6 p.m., on the following dates/locations:

  • May 25, Conference Room No. 232
  • June 22, Conference Room No. 232
  • July 20, Conference Room No. 9-10

Under Fairfax County law, yard waste such as brush, leaves and grass must be recycled. In nearby Arlington County, only paper bags are accepted.

Reston Now will update you if the county bans plastic in favor of the paper yard waste bags.

Photo: Plastic yard bags/Credit: Amazon.com

  • Mike M

    What does the County do with the “finished product?” Sell it? Or give it away?
    Would this affect individual homeowners? I thought the clear bag “law” was in effect, but my pick-up services doesn’t seem to care. Maybe they don’t use Fairfax solid waste facilities. I note that clear bags are more expensive. Paper bags are more expensive, lower capacity and topless and unstable. It seems like every time a County manager gets a big idea, I end up paying more.

    • Cheap Cheap the Birdie sez

      Because everything really is about Mike M.’s bottom line isn’t it?

      • Mike M

        Indeed! Mike’s and just a handful of others, maybe. Whereas other name changing Restonites have so much money, they don’t mind paying more for anything.

        • Kid with Braces

          ERMEGERD! I’m gonner per anerder quarter fer a berg!

          • Mike M

            Another $4 for dinner. Another $4 for parking. Another $4 for use of the toll road. Another $110 per for property taxes, . . . Bring it? Oh, and more bags and more work because of the shape and capacity of the bags. Is that your argument in favor? It’s not that much? Weak argument. Your putting words in my mouth with a childish speech impediment is more compelling. How about the people who want high quality free mulch pay for the labor to remove it? Or do it themselves.

          • Paper or Plastic?

            Parking is not a tax issue, its an issue of a private developer charging money for services you may desire.

            The bags might affect landscapers if the measure is implemented, not homeowners (yet). But it’s probably a good idea if the yard waste is going to be composted to have oh I dunno compostable bags.

            I’m guessing here, but you probably fill what 20 bags a season? The additional cost is what $5? (assuming .25 more per bag). Who knows, maybe the bag sellers will develop better compostable plant-based bags that don’t cost much more than plastic? (which is bad for the environment anyway).

            Your argument is always “I don’t want to pay for it.” Frankly that’s not much more compelling either.

          • Mike M

            Being restricted to more expensive bags is also not a tax issue. So, . . you are a tad non-sequitur.
            Having to pay more is never something I want to do. Most people agree with me. Glad money is no object for you. You are in the minority. Actually I fill more than 120 – 150 bags per season. The paper bags are smaller. So it might push 200. This is also more labor on my part. I prefer the freedom to not have the government restrict me to more expensive options.

          • Sick_of_stupid_people

            A ban would impact homeowners – you saying it won’t is not accurate at all.

            If you are good paying for these “extras” to improve the environment, please do cut a check to the county and give them your endless stream of income. The county would gladly accept that money.

            And if/when we move to paper bags, please tell your tree hugging breathren to allow for the increased logging to make all of these extra bags we will need

          • Sick_of_stupid_people

            Way to make fun of developmentally challenged people there.

      • Sick_of_stupid_people

        Everything is about our bottom line actually. I am glad you can afford to have a lawn service and cost is not an issue for you. Cost and time are issues for me. If I had the spare money to pay for a yard service, I’m sure they wouldn’t charge extra to do the paper bags either which would clearly take more time to fill. Their time isn’t worth anything, right? So instead of spending more time with my family I’ll spend it filling up paper bags so smug people like you and county “leaders” can feel good about themselves.

        I really don’t like how environmentalists like to shame people that can’t afford things. You don’t really help your cause by doing that by the way.

        I fill close to 150 bags of leaves each fall and about 1-2 per week of grass clippings and other yard debris the rest of the year. A funny thing happens between the weekend and Wednesday when yard waste is picked up – we get storms. Some of which have quite a bit of wind. How would the paper bags fare? Guessing the 150 plastic bags would become at least 225 and maybe as much as 300 because leaves don’t compress in paper bags the way they do in plastic.

        When they do eventually fall and spill in the subsequent storms, I am sure my neighbors wouldn’t mind all of the leaves going on to their property…

        If you and your fellow environmentalist friends think nothing of a “few extra” dollars here and there, why don’t you just go ahead and cut a check for a few hundred extra dollars a year each to the county – they won’t turn you down if you’d like to just gift them that money… or volunteer your seemingly unlimited time to open the bags properly. Or you could just have your lawn service come down to my home and bag my leaves for me…

        On a side note, I do recall when I grew up in the Falls Church area of Fairfax many years ago the county had this crazy service where a truck came through and vacuumed the leaves that were curb side 3-4 times per year… No need for any sort of bags in that scenario.

    • Hi-yo

      I like my women how I like my paper lawn bags: topless and unstable.

    • Greg
  • David

    Could lead to increased dumping on park or RA land. And speaking of RA, they should do leaf collection or at least contract with a removal company that would provide cheap service to anyone in Reston. I mean that RA negotiates a group price, not that RA pays for the pickup out of dues money. Why don’t they do that for trash pickup as well?

    • Greg

      Many, many of us would love to know the answer to your questions.

  • freestylergbb

    The less plastic in the environment the better.

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