Single-use plastic, such as plastic yard waste bags, create numerous environmental problems. Single-use plastic creates more than 8 million tons of waste in the ocean every year and emits toxic and poisonous gases into the atmosphere, damaging our ecosystem and causing both climate change and health issues. Conversely, paper bags are extracted from unbleached, recycled brown kraft paper, which saves natural resources and energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to environmental concerns, plastic yard waste bags create operational issues, including preventing the collection of materials on scheduled days of collection and keeping employees from social distancing. Eliminating single-use, plastic yard waste bags will allow Solid Waste Services to make operational changes to the collection program that will:
Decrease the amount of time required to provide service at each home. Since fiscal year 2016, the amount of yard waste collected by Solid Waste Services’ crews has increased nearly 30 percent. The large amounts of yard waste at the curb also increases the time that crews are at a stop. In addition to the large quantity of yard waste, the yard waste disposal facility does not accept yard waste in plastic bags. This requires Solid Waste Services’ staff to debag leaves at the curb, which increases collection times and makes it difficult to complete routes on the scheduled day of collection.
Reduce employees’ exposure to COVID-19. The elimination of plastic bags will reduce collection time during the workday and the number of employees in the truck cab, increasing the health and safety of Solid Waste Services’ employees.