Happening Now

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.

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


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.



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


Winter 2023

  • 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

Spring 2023

  • 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

Summer 2023

  • Revision to Chapter 15 (prohibition of plastic bags for curbside brush and leaf collection) implemented
  • Deploy customized engagement strategies

Fall 2023

  • Recommendation from staff to City Council on next steps for single-use plastic reduction


Supporting Documents


Contact Information

Bridget Herring, Sustainability Director



Start Date

December 2022

Completion Date

October 2023

Related Services

Dispose of large, seasonal or unusual items

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.

Recycling guidelines

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 Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 to integrate sustainable design, technology, and practice into municipal operations, infrastructure and services.  The Office of Sustainability is responsible for incorporating City Council’s Strategic Goals and City Resolutions pertaining to sustainability within the [...]