For years, Louisville residents have been under the impression that yard waste left on curbs for pickup is composted by the city. In fact, those leaves and grass clippings are used for daily cover at the landfill. That’s because most of the city’s yard waste is bagged in plastic, which contaminates the compost, and it’s too time intensive for staff to open and empty each of the bags.
“If Metro Government produces 22,000 tons [of yard waste]a year, which is about what they do, and only 50 percent of that was in plastic bags that weigh about 45 pounds, you’re talking about 500,000 bags that would have to be broke open,” said Metro Solid Waste Supervisor Pete Flood.
He said other cities have grappled with the same problem.
“But it seems as though the only way that anyone has found to have any success is to prevent the plastic from getting into the collection stream from the beginning.”
Now, the Waste Management Board has taken the first step to change the practice. The draft regulation requires all Jefferson County residents use reusable containers, paper bags or compostable plastic bags for yard waste.
The regulation is open for public comment, and the board plans to hold a public hearing on May 6. The board is also working to hire a public educator to launch an extensive outreach campaign.