Using plastic bags for yard waste removal will no longer be permitted in Louisville at the start of 2015.
The Solid Waste Management board of directors voted Tuesday night to approve a ban on the bags.
Residents who ignore the ban after Jan. 1 could receive a $50 fine for putting yard waste in bags that are not compostable, said Harold Adams, a spokesperson for Louisville Metro Works.
Adams said residents will probably receive “at least a warning,” before a fine, but he wouldn’t say how long warnings would be issued after Jan. 1.
Over the next several months, sanitation employees will work to educate residents on the new regulations. Adams said sanitation workers who encounter yard waste in plastic bags will leave behind a notice to the homeowner, reminding them of the regulation.
Come Jan. 1, plastic bags will not be picked up by sanitation workers, Adams said.
Homeowners will be on the hook for the fine. This includes homeowners who employ landscaping companies. “It’s your responsibility,” he said.
Adams said the need for the regulation stems from concerns that yard waste was being transported to landfills, not being mulched like residents had thought. This occurred because the plastic bags were contaminating the yard waste, making it unsuitable for mulching and recycling.
Members of the Metro Council Republican caucus vehemently opposed the regulation. Many said allowing the Solid Waste Board to approve the ban was an “end run” by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to get the regulation passed.
Republican Councilman James Peden said he would have rather seen a more comprehensive overhaul of policies regarding waste removal.
“If we’re going to change this rule, let’s make it the last rule we’re going to have to change for a while and I don’t think that is the case, I think this is just the beginning,” he said. ”I think everything about this rule change revolves around one thing, that they don’t want plastic in their mulch. This was an economic issue.”
By approving the regulation to ban plastic bags, Adams said officials were “trying to do the right thing for the environment.”
Adams said private municipalities around the county must also adhere to the new regulation.
A new position within the Metro Works department is being created to help with the education process, Adams said. He would not say how much the individual will be paid, but interviews for the position begin Thursday.
“It’s not so much that they will have a different skill set,” he said. “But they will be dedicated to the task.”
Instead of plastic bags, residents are now encouraged to mulch yard waste, utilize seasonal drop off centers or use paper bags, compostable bags or reusable containers.