More expensive trash for some Houstonians

September 9, 2009 4:13:44 PM PDT
Getting rid of your grass clippings and leaves just got a bit more expensive for Houston residents. That's because the city will soon require everyone to use special biodegradable lawn bags.Those bags will cost you more than you're used to paying. The bags are not cheap compared to the ones you are using now and if you do not use the new bags, the City of Houston simply will not pick up your lawn clippings or tree leaves.

Houston residents who rely on city sanitation crews to pick up their leaves and grass clippings use whatever bag they choose to get rid of the waste, but that's about to come to an end.

"We are only going to pick up yard trimmings in biodegradable bags, those are bags that will decompose in a three to four month period," said Marina Coryat-Joseph.

The bags are not yet available, but should be on store shelves in about a month. Unlike the bags you get now, the new ones will cost more money. Right now you can get 40 lawn bags for less than $10. The new bags will cost you $7 for just ten bags.

"Well, I have to think about it. When you look at the cost factor of it, it's quite expensive," said homeowner John Gordon.

The city says it ultimately costs taxpayers more to continue using the old bags because all that yard waste is taking up valuable land fill space.

"We are going to be saving approximately up to $2 million by diverting the 60,000 tons of yard trimmings that go into the landfill," said Coryat-Joseph.

The new bags decompose in months, the old bags take years. The environmental benefits are driving the bag changes according to city officials and some say it's worth it.

"They'll decompose over a period of time? That's worth it then. Yeah, I'll pay for it," said homeowner Dave Butler.

City officials say the new rules go into effect the first week in December. After that, sanitation workers will no longer pick up yard clippings and leaves that are not in the new bags.

The city will eventually fine people for not using the right bags, but will probably limit fines in the first few weeks of the new rules. If you don't want the added expense, leave the grass clippings where they fall or mulch mow your lawn. As for leaves, you can mulch mow them or compost them.

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