South Bend council approves plastic bag ban for yard waste

South Bend, Ind. South Bend residents will no longer get to choose between paper or plastic when it comes to bagging up their leaves.

The common council voted unanimously Monday to amend city code and ban the use of plastic bags for yard waste.

The decision comes a couple months after the city was cited for a violation by IDEM because of a large pile of material sitting at Organic Resources that's been contaminated by plastic.

On Tuesday, five companies submitted bids on the project to move the pile.

"We've got a major issue out there," said Executive Director of Public Works Eric Horvath. "We've got this pile that's the size of a football field, 19-feet high of plastic contaminated yard waste that we need to do something with."

Although the administration originally wanted the ordinance to go into effect this year, the council requested the enforcement be pushed back to Jan. 2014.

"You can't do this without giving people warning," said Councilman Dave Varner.

So, starting next year, residents will have several other options for disposing of yard waste.

"In place what we'll do is allow for them to put yard waste in paper bags, biodegradable bags, or residential supply containers up to the maximum weight of 35 lbs. per bag or container," Horvath said.

He says people can also opt to rent a 95-gallon bin from the city. That will cost residents $2 per month from April to November, or $16 a year.

The city plans to remind residents of the ban by putting notices in water bills and putting stickers on plastic bags that are put out on the curb.

Banning the bags for yard waste disposal is one step toward eliminating the large pile at organic resources, which will cost more than $1 million.

Bids are currently being reviewed.

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