Mayor: Yard waste in plastic bags won't be picked up

Placing yard waste in plastic bags is damaging a machine the city bought with state grant money in 2016, according to city leaders. Beginning April 1, the city will no longer pick up grass clippings, limbs and leaves that are placed in plastic bags.

Hendersonville residents beginning the spring-time ritual of maintaining their yards will want to make note of a new city policy beginning April 1.

That’s when the city will stop picking up yard waste like limbs, leaves and grass clippings if they’re placed in plastic rather than paper bags, according to Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary.

“Plastic bags don’t fit with the recycling objective we have with picking up yard waste and they also clog up the machinery,” said the mayor.

The Hendersonville Public Works Department cut the ribbon on a piece of machinery it calls “the beast,” in 2016. The purchase was made possible with a $118,000 matching grant the city received from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to start a new mulching facility at the old landfill on Forest Retreat Road.

In the beginning, the city provided free paper bags with a portion of the grant money in order to encourage residents to move away from using plastic bags.

“For at least three years, the city has been picking up yard waste with the expectation that residents put it in paper bags, and we’ve extended the grace period long enough,” Clary added.

The mayor said he’s made the managers of Lowe’s, Home Depot and Ace Hardware aware of the new policy so that they can have paper bags in stock for their customers.

Until 2019 the city’s trash service provider was responsible for picking up yard waste placed in paper bags. However, when Clary signed a new contract with the new service provider, Waste Pro, yard waste pick up was not included in the contract.

“[Waste Pro] shouldn’t pick up yard waste, but sometimes they do,” said Public Works Committee Chairman Mark Skidmore. “Sometimes it’s just hard for them to tell what’s in the bags and they just go ahead and pick it up.”

Skidmore also urges the use of paper bags for yard waste.

“Not only are the plastic bags not good for the environment, they’re also causing problems with our equipment,” he said. “We’re just trying to be more recycle friendly.”

Skidmore said he also expects the committee to continue to explore ways to implement a citywide recycling program.

“We’re going to really attack the recycling issue,” he said. “There are a lot of people who keep telling us it’s something they would like the city to do.”

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