Happening Now

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.  


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

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 websiteCheck out this image to better understand acceptable containers for disposing of your leaves curbside!

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


Background

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.


Timeline

Actions Taken

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

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 – 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

March/April 2023

  • 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

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 Program Manager
kbulan@ashevillenc.gov

 


 

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

Sustainability

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 [...]

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