Environment

Fall officially begins Tuesday, and Jefferson County’s Solid Waste Authority is hoping it’ll be a good season to change the way county residents bag their leaves.

Earlier this year, the Waste Management District adopted a regulation that requires Jefferson County residents to use either paper bags or reusable containers for yard waste. Starting Jan. 1, crews won’t pick up yard waste bagged with plastic.

“Because the plastic bags get mixed with the yard waste, and we are trying to compost that yard waste,” said Solid Waste Public Coordinator Angela Kessans. “And being able to get those plastic bags out is extremely difficult.”

When the yard waste is contaminated with plastic, often instead of compost the material is used as cover in the landfill.

Even though the plastic bag ban doesn’t officially go into effect for several months, Kessans said now is a good time to get into the habit of using other containers.

“We’re starting the upcoming leaf season, so people are going to start to have some of that, and why not go ahead and make the change now?” she asked. “It’s usually a lot less expensive and it’s usually easier than using the plastic bags.”

For a month this fall during peak leaf season, Kessans said work crews will pick up leaves in plastic bags, but will leave a paper bag and information pamphlets on residents’ doorsteps. The hope is that no one will be taken by surprise when the regulation goes into effect.

Alternately, there’s also the option of leaving leaves in place. Kessans said when leaves are left on yards and mulched with a mower, there are additional benefits. The mulched leaves help fertilize the yard, and help with water retention and weed reduction.