Asheville Asks: Does the new NC state budget provision on plastic bags impact Asheville’s leaf collection ordinance?

blue and green questions marks as background with title Asheville Asks

With Fall in the air and leaves on the ground, many have asked: Does the recent North Carolina state budget provision addressing the use of plastic bags impact Asheville’s new leaf collection ordinance that went into effect August 1, 2023 ?

The short answer is no. The new NC state budget provision does not impact the prohibition of plastic bags in leaf collection operations.


Here’s a fuller explanation:

The plastic bags that may be used in waste collection operations do not fit the definition of an auxiliary container as defined by the State. The new prohibition in the State Budget only applies to local laws attempting to regulate auxiliary containers.  As leaf collection bags are not designed for merchandise, food, or beverages at various facilities, the legislation does not impact the City’s new ordinance that went into effect on August 1, 2023 .

Auxiliary containers, as defined in the new State provision (listed below) does not include leave collection bags.

 “§ 160A-205.6. Limitations on regulations of auxiliary containers; shopping carts.

  • (b)  A city is authorized to:
    • (1)  Operate a recycling program, a composting program, and a solid waste disposal program as authorized by law.
    • (2)  Regulate the use of auxiliary containers on property owned or maintained by the city.
  • (c)  The following definitions shall apply in this section:
    • (1)  Auxiliary container. – A bag, cup, package, container, bottle, device, or other packaging made of cloth, paper, plastic, foamed plastic, fiber, expanded plastic, cardboard, corrugated material, aluminum, glass, post-consumer recycled material, or similar coated or laminated material that is designed for the consumption, transportation, or protection of merchandise, food, or beverage at a food service facility, manufacturing facility, distribution facility, processing facility, or retail facility.


Leaves in paper bags awaiting collection
Please leave all bags open as they await collection.

So remind me – what’s the best way to dispose of leaves under the new City ordinance?

    • Place leaves, pine needles, pinecones, and other small yard waste in approved yard waste containers. 
    • Approved containers include:
      • Biodegradable paper yard waste bags, no more than 25 lbs
      • Rigid plastic container or woven polypropylene yard waste bag that is 10-32 gallons, weighing 50 lbs or less, does not collect rainwater, and is clearly labeled ‘brush/yard/leaf waste’
    • Shrubs, limbs, and larger brush should be neatly stacked loose at the curb.
    • Brush and limbs, including bamboo, need to be cut into no greater than 4 foot lengths and 6 inch diameter.
    • Do not place yard waste in the road travelway or block the sidewalk.
    • Keep yard waste away from other objects such as fences, walls, water meters, utility poles, mailboxes, fire hydrants, and cars.
    • Avoid placing brush under utility lines and tree limbs.
    • Thorny trimmings must be in a separate pile

Gentle reminder: Dont burn leaves

The burning of leaves is not permitted in the City and violators risk a fine from the Asheville Fire Marshal’s office. Fines can range between $250 to $500 or more, and violators may even be arrested.


Not into bagging leaves? Try Composting!

One of the simplest and most efficient ways to manage loose leaves is through composting. Residents can use a mulching mower to run over the leaves, allowing them to compost directly into the lawn. Another option is to rake the leaves into a compost pile, which will decompose over time and serve as a beneficial soil additive for gardening purposes. Get more info on leaf composting here, or general composting options.


compost bin
Consider composting your leaves, turning them into soil amendments for your garden.