Photo by Trevor Wade/Flickr

In a move to improve the sustainability of the county’s waste management system, Baltimore County will shift from plastic to paper bags for yard waste collection.

The Baltimore County Department of Public Works and Transportation last week announced the transition. 

Beginning on April 1, 2022, the county will require all yard material collections be placed in a paper bag. 

County residents can pick up paper bags at no cost from all Baltimore County public library branches, senior centers, and trash and recycling drop-off centers. 

The bags will be limited to 5 per person and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The new rule will be set in place to allow the county to turn more yard waste into compost. 

Composting converts yard materials like grass and leaves into a rich soil-enhancing material. 

According to the EPA, food scraps and yard waste account for 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. 

Composting has a variety of benefits, including enriching soil, diminishing the need for chemical fertilizers, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and lowering your carbon footprint. 

Back in July, Baltimore City launched a drop-off pilot program to make composting accessible to everyone. 

Yard waste, properly bagged, is accepted at certain residential drop-off centers in the city.

The shift to paper bags for yard materials in Baltimore County is based on a recommendation from a report released by the Solid Waste Work Group in June of this year.

The work group was assembled by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in Oct. 2020 to examine the county’s waste collection system.

The group offered 19 recommendations to improve the system, which currently operates under practices that date as far back as 1949.