The city of Greensboro’s new yard-waste containers — that come with a $4.1 million price tag — are rolling toward residents starting April 8, per a city press release distributed this morning.

After city leaders nixed loose-leaf collection in a 7-2 August vote, the longtime city program collected its last leaves in February. Now, residents will place yard waste into new 95-gallon containers instead.

The decision to switch was met with mixed reactions from residents and city leaders alike.

Councilmembers such as Marikay Abuzuaiter lauded the change and encouraged residents to “leave the leaves” on their lawns, while Councilmember Zack Matheny remained staunchly opposed to the ultimate verdict.

Residents like Randolph Ariail were concerned about “older people, people with limited mobility, using these cans and bags.”

Still, the city is moving along with the plan. They estimate it will take them until May 20 to deliver more than 75,000 containers to households citywide, with each home receiving one container. According to the city, residents may begin using their new containers “as soon as they arrive,” and it will be collected on their weekly garbage-collection day.

The containers may be used for yard waste items such as leaves, branches, twigs, dead plants and grass clippings, the city states.

Any items that aren’t yard waste such as plastic bags, animal waste, food, plant pots, rocks, soil, mulch and dirt will not be collected. Additionally, no yard waste put in plastic bags will be picked up, and the city will stop collecting personal yard waste bins starting July 1.

If residents can’t fit all of their yard waste into the container, the city suggests that they place it in paper yard waste bags or bundles tied with twine. Bags or bundles must be shorter than 5-feet long and weigh less than 50 pounds. The city will pick up a maximum of 10 bags or bundles per week March through October and 15 November through February.

This year’s leaf season begins on Nov. 1, 2024 and will end after the second week of February 2025.

The city is buying these carts with limited-obligation bonds and will pay it back at a rate of 2-3 percent over 20 years according to Assistant City Manager Larry Davis, who said that his “best guess” at the actual cost would be $5-6 million with the interest. However, the city asserts that this change will save them money in the long run.

In an email to TCB, the city’s Interim Director of Solid Waste and Recycling Chris Marriott stated that the city should save about $550,000 during the first year. However, their savings will increase with each passing year due to fixed equipment costs versus labor costs, Marriott wrote. By year 15, the estimated savings for that year would be $1.1 million. 

“Cumulative savings over 15 years is now estimated to be $12,927,000,” Marriott noted.

Learn more about the changes to city yard-waste operations here.

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