Asheville City Council has directed the Sustainability Department to take a phased approach to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic. The first phase includes 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.
The second phase includes an internal assessment and engagement with staff, residents and businesses to study sanitation services as it relates to the disposal of single-use plastic and the impact to operations and the community if further action is taken. City employee engagement via “Plastics Cafes” took place in early December 2022. These forums provided an opportunity for in-depth conversations across departments with diverse perspectives. Staff is currently using initial input from community partners and internal engagement to develop robust external community stakeholder engagement and to identify areas for further study.
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 on Energy and the Environment (SACEE), who recommended City Council take action to reduce single-use plastic consumption.
In October 2022 City Council directed staff to draft a revision to Chapter 15 prohibiting single-use plastic bags for curbside leaf collection and to conduct further analysis and stakeholder engagement to inform a recommendation on additional single-use plastic reduction strategies surrounding single-use plastic bags at point of sale and disposable foodware products. Chapter 15 revision recommendations are built on previous outreach and education initiatives and were brought to City Council and approved on January 10th. Residential and business stakeholder engagement conducted in the Spring and Summer of 2023 will inform a phase 2 recommendation to City Council in the Fall of 2023.
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
- Initiate data collection and analysis of sanitation services in regards to plastic bags and disposable foodware products
- Design Public input survey for internal and external community engagement
- Launch public input survey
- Review and Refine engagement. Identify the gaps in process to date, and develop focus groups and strategies for further engagement.
- Initiate one-time distribution of paper leaf/brush bags to City residents
- Revision to Chapter 15 (prohibition of plastic bags for curbside brush and leaf collection) implemented
- Deploy customized engagement strategies
- Recommendation from staff to City Council on next steps for single-use plastic reduction
- Leaf Bag Collections: Recommended Changes for Chapter 15
- Leaf Collection Flyer
- 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
Bridget Herring, Sustainability Director