Passing on Plastic – Mayor Says 85% of Louisville KY Residents Following New Law

Louisville, Ky. – Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that the vast majority of Louisville households are obeying a new rule that requires the use of reusable or compostable containers for disposal of yard waste.

The regulation, which prohibits disposing of yard waste in traditional plastic bags, was passed in May of 2014 by the Louisville Jefferson County Solid Waste Management District and enforcement began January 1, 2015. Through the early weeks of gardening season, the Solid Waste division of Metro Public Works estimates that more than 85 percent of the approximately 80,000 Louisville households from which yard waste is collected are using approved disposal methods.

“That is great news that will help us make Louisville a greener more sustainable and attractive community,” Fischer said. He urged the remaining 15 percent of households to “get on board” with the regulation.

Prior to the new rule Louisville was putting 32,000 tons of yard waste into the landfill each year because it was very difficult to separate the organic material from the plastic. That prevented the material from being turned into compost and mulch that can be used to make gardens healthier and more attractive.

Removing plastic from the yard waste stream means saving limited landfill space as well as gaining the benefits of compost and mulch.

The high compliance rate so far is due to an education campaign launched last spring by the Solid Waste Management District and Public Works. The campaign spells out the following preferred yard waste management and disposal methods:

  • Mulch and/or compost yard clippings to eliminate cost and need for yard waste collection
  • Place yard waste in reusable containers like traditional plastic garbage cans to reduce the need for continual purchase of single-use bags
  • Place yard waste in paper bags designed for yard waste collection
  • Place yard waste in compostable plastic bags that meet ASTM D6400 standards
  • Use seasonal drop-off centers for yard waste materials

    Yard waste that is set out in traditional plastic bags is not being collected. Instead haulers are leaving informational stickers on the bags and households are receiving reminder letters about the regulation. Continued noncompliance is subject to fines up to $100.

The rule applies whether you live in the inner part of Louisville known as the Urban Services District, or in a smaller city or subdivision anywhere else inside Jefferson County. More details about how to reduce yard waste volume is available at

Fischer noted that the yard waste initiative is part of a broader effort to make the city more environmentally sustainable. Other progress and initiatives include:

  • Recent completion of a Tree Canopy Study
  • Examining ways to reduce the heat island effect of living in the city
  • A wet-dry recycling program that is dramatically increasing recycling rates in the Central Business District
  • A new Green Fork Certification program for restaurants that consistently recycle food waste
  • Recognition in March as a Top 25 City for the most Energy Star certified buildings