Happening Now

The City of Asheville launched the Less Plastic Asheville Challenge to encourage residents to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics. The campaign has two key features, a social media challenge called Less Plastic Bingo, and a Pass on Plastic Pledge. The City will provide information about the impacts that single-use plastics have on our community and will share tips for residents to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics at tabling events around town and on our social media platforms. Social media challenge participants will post photos and videos of themselves taking action to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

Those who take the pledge commit to sustainable lifestyle choices, such as using reusable grocery bags and refusing single-use plastics. Residents who participate in either the Less Plastic Bingo Challenge or the Pass on Plastic Pledge will win great prizes! The Less Plastic Asheville challenge began on February 1, 2024, and ends on May 31, 2024.  

white styrofoam cup and green plastic bag with word plastic reduction initiative

Biodegradable or reusable containers required for brush and leaf pickup

Information to support our community’s transition to biodegradable or reusable leaf containers, which went into effect on August 1, 2023, is available on the City’s Sanitation websiteCheck out this image to see acceptable containers for curbside leaf disposal!

To follow updates on plastic reduction, please subscribe on Public Input. For questions about the initiative please check out our Plastics FAQ document!


It is the City of Asheville’s mission to support a thriving local economy and a clean, healthy environment. Community cleanliness has been identified by City Council as an area of concern and is encompassed in their FY23 strategic priority to improve core services. In 2022, Plastic Free WNC, a coalition of organizations and community advocates including MountainTrue, Sierra Club, and NC Public Interest Research Group, gathered data on the impact of plastic bags and disposable foodware products on the natural environment and conducted preliminary stakeholder engagement. The coalition found that single-use plastic products pose a serious threat to public health and the local environment. The group presented this information and a proposed ordinance to the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC) in July 2022. The committee recommended that City Council take action to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

In October 2022, Asheville City Council directed the Sustainability Department to take a phased approach to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic. The first phase included an update to Chapter 15 of the City Code to prohibit the use of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection. This ordinance change was approved by City Council on January 10 and was implemented on August 1, 2023.

In December and January 2023, staff conducted internal focus groups and a city staff survey, while researching sanitation services related to the disposal of single-use plastic and its potential impacts. Staff utilized initial input from community partners, cross-departmental engagement, and research to plan robust external community stakeholder engagement and to identify areas for further study.

From March to August 2023, staff conducted residential and business stakeholder engagement and further analysis to inform their recommendation to City Council regarding additional single-use plastic reduction strategies related to plastic bags at point of sale and expanded polystyrene (StyrofoamTM) disposable foodware products.

On September 22, 2023, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the state budget, which included a law prohibiting local governments from banning single-use plastic products. Due to this regulation, the City cannot adopt an ordinance banning plastic bags or expanded polystyrene (StyrofoamTM) takeout containers. Instead, the City is providing information and resources to residents and businesses to reduce single-use plastic consumption voluntarily.


Actions Taken

July 2018  

  • Paper bags introduced for curbside brush and leaf collection
  • Annual outreach and education campaigns conducted on curbside brush and leaf collection

July 2022 

  • Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment (SACEE) voted 7-0 to support prohibition of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection 
  • SACEE voted 5-2 to support a ban on single-use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene disposable food ware containers at point-of-sale

October 2022

  • City Council directed staff to draft a revision to Chapter 15 prohibiting the use of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection
  • City Council directed staff to conduct robust internal and external stakeholder engagement and data analysis to inform a recommendation on single-use plastic reduction

November 2022 

  • City staff initiated internal engagement on operational impacts

January 2023 

  • City Council approved the update to City Code Chapter 15 prohibiting the use of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection

February 2023

  • City staff provided an update to the Environment & Safety Committee (ESC) on initial findings from internal engagement, data collection, and analysis of sanitation services regarding plastic bags and disposable food ware products

March – April 2023

  • Staff collected Input from Asheville residents and business owners through public input survey
  • Distributed paper leaf/brush bags to City residents

May – August 2023

  • Reviewed initial survey responses, refined engagement, identified gaps in the process to date, and developed strategies for further engagement
  • Deployed customized engagement strategies
  • Revision to Chapter 15 (prohibition of plastic bags for curbside brush and leaf collection) implemented

September 2023

  • Presented summary of findings from year of engagement, analysis, and research 
  • Recommended next steps for single-use plastic reduction to the City Council Environment & Safety Committee

February – April 2024

  • Implement Less Plastic Asheville Challenge


Supporting Documents


Contact Information

Kiera Bulan, Sustainability Manager



Start Date

December 2022

Completion Date

May 2024

Related Services

Information about disposing of large or unusual items such as furniture, household hazardous waste, or appliances. As well as instructions for brush, leaves, or Christmas trees.

Information on what can be recycled, how to prepare items for collection, and composting.

Related Departments


The City of Asheville has a strong record and long-standing commitment to sustainability. The Sustainability Department was created in 2008 to integrate sustainable design, technology, and practice into municipal operations, infrastructure, and services. The Sustainability Department is responsible for incorporating City Council’s Strategic Goals and City Resolutions pertaining to sustainability within the organization.   Doing the Work Listed [...]