This City of Asheville is launching 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 on the impacts of single-use plastic on our community and tips for how our residents can understand and reduce their consumption of single-use plastics at tabling events around town and on our social media platforms. Those participating in the social media challenge will post photos and videos of themselves taking action to reduce single-use plastic consumption.
Those who take the pledge will make commitments 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 Pass on Plastic Pledge will win great prizes! The Less Plastic Asheville challenge will begin February 1, 2024 and end April 30, 2024.
Biodegradable or reusable containers required for brush and leaf pickup
To support our community’s transition to biodegradable or reusable leaf containers which was in effect as of August 1, 2023, information and resources are available on the City’s Sanitation website. Check out this image to better understand acceptable containers for disposing of your leaves curbside!
It is the City of Asheville’s mission to create 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. Single-use plastic products pose a serious threat to public health and the local environment. 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. In July 2022, this information and a proposed ordinance was presented to the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC), who recommended 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 will be implemented August 1, 2023.
In December and January 2023 staff conducted internal focus groups and a city staff survey alongside research to study sanitation services related to the disposal of single-use plastic and potential impacts. Staff utilized initial input from community partners, cross departmental engagement and research to develop robust external community stakeholder engagement and to identify areas for further study.
March – August 2023 staff conducted residential and business stakeholder engagement and further analysis that informed staffs recommendation on additional single-use plastic reduction strategies surrounding plastic bags at point of sale and expanded polystyrene (StyrofoamTM) disposable foodware products to City Council.
On September 22, 2023 the North Carolina General Assembly approved the state budget that 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.
July 2018 – Paper bags introduced for curbside brush and leaf collection. Annual outreach and education campaigns conducted from 2018 – present
July 2022 – Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment voted 7-0 to support prohibition of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection and voted 5-2 to support ban on single-use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene disposable foodware containers at point of sale
- 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 – Initiated internal engagement on operational impacts
January 2023 – City Council approved to update City Code Chapter 15 to prohibit the use of plastic bags in curbside brush and leaf collection
February 2023 – Provided an update to the Environment & Safety Committee on initial findings from internal engagement and data collection and analysis of sanitation services in regards to plastic bags and disposable foodware products
- 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 and refined engagement, identified gaps in 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
- 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
- Implement Less Plastic Asheville Challenge
- Leaf Bag Collections: Recommended Changes for Chapter 15
- City of Asheville Sustainability Advisory Committee; July 20, 2022
- City of Asheville Governance Committee; September 13, 2022
- Asheville City Council Meeting; October 11, 2022
- Memo from Staff
- Plastic Free WNC Business Survey Results
- Plastics FAQ
- Presentation – Environment & Safety Committee, February 28, 2023
- Presentations- Sustainability Advisory Committee on Data Analysis and Public Input Survey, May 17, 2023
- Staff Memo on Single Use Plastic Waste Data Analysis
- Presentation – Environment & Safety Committee, May 23, 2023
- Presentation – Sustainability Advisory Committee, September 20, 2023
- Presentation – Environment & Safety Committee September 26, 2023
- Public Engagement Blog Post and report
Kiera Bulan, Sustainability Program Manager