Plan to remove grass clippings from weekly garbage pickup inches ahead

City council agreed to a blueprint separating grass clippings, leaves, and yard waste from regular garbage pick-up in 2020.

Council gave the plan, proposed at an August utility committee meeting, the green light Tuesday. 

Under the plan, residents will continue to put yard waste on the curb through 2019 while the city runs an education campaign to help them "adapt to the new program."

Coun. Andrew Knack said the city will continue to take feedback from the public.

"This is significant change in Edmonton," Knack said. "We want to ease people into that transition."

The plan will be phased in with grass clippings being separated out first, then leaves and other yard waste.

The city wants to stop picking up clippings at the curb, along with regular garbage. Residents wanting a cleaner lawn can take their clippings to an eco station or drop them off at one of the city's "big bin" events.

The city has been encouraging people since 2013 to go "bagless," leaving clippings on their lawns. Experts say mulching improves the health of the lawn.

While more people are coming around to the idea of going bagless, they seem more resistant to a twice-a-year pick up of yard waste, said Coun. Andrew Knack.

"I heard a lot from seniors who were concerned about not having a vehicle to take their yard waste over to an eco station, and not feeling comfortable leaving it the entire year.

"If you're a senior without a vehicle, you can't just take your yard waste on the bus and head over to the eco station."

Council has asked the operations branch for a breakdown of costs on two options.

One option (Option 2 above) would save an estimated $4.6 million in operating costs and produce higher-grade compost which could be sold to more customers.

The second option (Option 3 above) allows the city to review the grass clipping changes, possibly allowing grass to be added to green bins. This option is estimated to save the city $3.2 million a year in operation costs.  

Waste Services branch is working with a consultant to confirm the estimates, so the projected savings may change.