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Last month, Greensboro city leaders voted to spend $4.1 million on gray, rolling 95-gallon yard waste containers as part of their move away from loose-leaf collection. As leaf-collection season ends this month, it also marks the last time leaves will be collected by vacuum trucks.

These containers will replace personal cans, which will no longer be collected by city crews starting July 1. Additionally, the city will no longer collect leaves in plastic bags starting in March.

This spring, the city’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department will deliver a yard waste container to all homes that receive yard waste collection from the city. Carts will be picked up once per week.

Residents have until March 31 to opt out of receiving a container or to request to purchase a second one.

Residents can decline their yard waste container by filling out this form or request to purchase a second one by calling the city contact center at 336-373-CITY (2489). Currently, residents can only request one additional container, which will cost $65. According to the city, residents can be “charged for this as part of their monthly water bill, or may pay by check if they do not have a water account with the city.”

Second containers will be available only while current supplies last, the city states.

Whatever yard waste doesn’t fit in the cart will have to go in biodegradable bags. During leaf season, city workers will pick up a maximum of 15 bags per week. Outside of leaf season, they’ll pick up 10.

The decision has been met with contempt from city residents as well as city leaders.

District 3 Councilmember Zack Matheny has been critical of how much the city is shelling out. The city will be borrowing money to pay for these containers. According to Assistant City Manager Larry Davis, the interest rate will be 2-3 percent, and they will be paying it back over 20 years. His best guess on the total amount the city will pay is in the “$5-6 million range.”

Still, the city attests that this decision will save money in the long run. In a January email to TCB, the city’s Interim Director of Solid Waste and Recycling Chris Marriott stated that cumulative savings over 15 years is an estimated $12.9 million.

But coaxing leaves into bags or a container rather than to the curb may prove challenging to Greensboro’s elderly and disabled residents.

Resident Brian Cooke worries that these populations will face an unfair cost and have to hire people to rake their leaves.

“They’re gonna have to pay for it out of pocket,” Cooke told TCB. “It’s a hidden tax, more or less. It’s short-sighted, it’s not thought out.”

Learn more about the city’s new leaf-collection system here.

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