To bag and bundle yard waste — or not?

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 3, 2019 7:00 p.m.

Under the terms of the city’s new 5-year contract for trash removal, Advanced Disposal Services has assumed the job of disposing of residential yard debris.  Formerly, the trash hauler picked up the debris but deposited it in a mulch facility operated by the city of Fernandina Beach.  The change is saving the city money and staff hours.

The change has also generated some confusion among some city residents regarding rumored new requirements for curbside pick up of routine yard waste.

According to Karlie Evatt, spokeswoman for Advanced Disposal Services, their firm encourages residents to bag yard debris to keep the material from blowing around the streets.  But she stressed the word is “encourages,” not “mandates.”  In an email she wrote, “[Bagging leaves and clippings and bundling branches] will not be a requirement. However, the more yard waste material bagged the less material that could be blown around on the streets. The max amount of yard waste material that will be allowed per pick up is three cubic yards. This amount can easily be bagged, bundled, or containerized. We are doing this in an effort to help keep things a little cleaner. With that being said if the material is not bagged and is within the three cubic yards [Advanced Disposal’s haulers] will STILL collect it.”

The map below, also available on the city’s website, presents collection days for yard debris.  See the key at the bottom.


Much information about Advanced Disposal Services can be obtained from their website, where interested users of their services can also sign up to receive email or text alerts.  There is also helpful information on the city website regarding contacts, recycling and other trash-related topics.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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10 Responses to To bag and bundle yard waste — or not?

  1. Theresa Hamilton says:

    Thanks for the info Suanne. Can you clarify whether the yard waste will still be taken to the City’s mulch facility?

  2. Dave Lott says:

    Suanne can verify but my understanding is that the City’s mulch site out at the airport is no longer active. Advanced Disposal will transport yard waste to another site.

  3. Tom Carless says:

    Just to clarify, so what happens now if someone has a tree come down or a large clean up and they have more than 3 yards of debris put out to the street

  4. Chris Hadden says:

    Bagging yard waste? leaves, grass clippings, hedge trimmings. No, come on. We now want people to put this stuff in plastic bags? First of all that is a total pain. Second the truck that picks up stuff does a fine job without things being bagged. What happens if everything is in a plastic bag? How do they mulch that without opening all the plastic bags and throwing those away? I fail to see the logic in this.. please explain.

  5. Louis Tharin says:

    I agree with Chris. In the past they would of a not pick-up plastic bags, but now they encourage the use. Also, our neighborhood of 10-11 houses uses 3 pick-up places for yard waste. I’m sure we violate the 3 cubic yard requirement many times.

  6. Mary Anne Waikart says:

    Thank you for this clarification. I had already started a letter to the Commissioners about the requirement to bag yard waste. It would be unthinkable if PLASTIC bags were to be mandated. In other cities where bagging is required, a special tall heavy PAPER bag is used — with a price tag to the residents. The price tag is OK — it keeps more plastic from entering the environment — but I could see protests here about even that. My conclusion from your article is to keep doing what we’ve been doing!! It works.

  7. In my opinion another “miss” from Advanced Disposal. I just watched the delivery of my new(er) household waste and recycle bins in their bright City of Fernandina Beach colors. They come adorned with the official city logo, are bar coded and include instructions on how and what to recycle. Along with the new cans, Advanced included a couple of handy guides on what is considered garbage and what will and won’t be recycled. Typical confusing info from them as they failed to state whether or not plastic bottles and jars should or should not have their caps attached. Also, after reading statements from them in the past that glass containers are a hazard and a waste of energy to recycle the new system doesn’t exclude glass from recycling.
    Yard waste and the 3 cubic foot rule doesn’t reflect the reality of life when a homeowner needs to dispose of larger tree limbs or tree trunks as they (under the new rules) exceed the weight and size limitations. Bagging yard waste is a waste of time and only creates more plastic garbage to deal with. The use of the “claw” truck was a very efficient way of quickly picking up both small and large piles of debris. Come on Advanced, you can do better!

  8. Dave Lott says:

    I didn’t see anywhere in the literature or AD’s links that they specified plastic bags for yard waste. All the big box and hardware stores sell durable paper bags for yard waste at a very inexpensive price. Having the yard waste such as grass clippings (you should be mulching anyway), leaves and shrubbery clippings makes the collection effort more efficient and help keeps the costs down. From my experience being in other areas, the policies under the City’s contract are quite generous as to frequency of pickup and cost. As an example, in a suburban city 35 milles outside of Atlanta, we pay $18/month for once a week garbage pickup and an additional $120/year for once a week yard waste pickup that must be placed in paper bags or bundled so limbs are less than 3 feet long and the bundle weighs less than 40 lbs. In Gainesville FL, if your garbage lid won’t close because the bin is too full, they will not pick up your garbage. You have to go buy an “excess garbage bag” at Publix.
    Their website and the City’s link clearly shows that caps can be kept on plastic bottles.

    • Good points Dave, upon further reading of the flyers they do not state that bags must or should be plastic. It does indicate however that yard waste can be containerized which to me should allow for the use of reusable heavy duty plastic or metal cans vice using “one-way” bags purchased at a store.
      The flyer should also have clearly stated that plastic caps and lids can be left on or recycled separately. Why print a flyer if you need to go to the website to answers all of your questions?
      Caps are typically made from a different plastic then the container it’s attached to and that sometimes creates problems.
      Please read the “Garbage In, Garbage Out” article (Fernandina Observer, City News) from February 1, 2018 concerning recycling glass containers. Has that issue been addressed? Advanced complained that glass recycling, because of the increased weight, drives the cost of recycling beyond the worth of the glass. I have also read that if the glass breaks during collection then it contaminates the paper and the load has to be dumped. Why risk contaminating a whole truck of paper and plastic over expensive to recycle and worthless glass?

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