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Harford County won't accept yard waste in plastic bags, starting Sept. 1

This is the last spring and summer that plastic bags of yard waste will be accepted either at the Tollgate drop-off site or at the Harford Waste Disposal Center

This is the last spring and summer that plastic bags of yard waste will be accepted either at the Tollgate drop-off site in Bel Air or at the Harford Waste Disposal Center on Scarboro Road in Street.

The county government says it's an environmental matter and that beginning Sept. 1, yard waste will still be accepted at both locations, but not in plastic bags.

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After the change takes effect, yard waste can be transported to either location in containers, including plastic bags that can be dumped, but not in plastic bags to be dumped and ground up with the yard waste for producing mulch.

"We are just beginning to let folks know to give them time to adjust to the new rule," Cindy Mumby, a county government spokeswoman, wrote in an email Friday.

"As to the reason, the longstanding process has been that plastic bags get ground up when we process mulch and compost, so the plastic has to be screened out and discarded," she explained. "But the screening is imperfect, pieces scatter in the breeze and have to be picked up at the processing site (Scarboro). This change will be better for the environment and more efficient for processing mulch and compost."

There's no cost for disposing of yard waste, nor is one planned. The only change in the works will be the prohibition on dumping plastic bags of yard waste.

"When the rule goes into effect on Sept. 1," Mumby wrote, "citizens will have choices at both locations: They can drop off their yard trim loose, in bundles, in paper bags or cardboard boxes. Or they can bring their yard trim in a container (including trash cans, totes, plastic bags) and they will be directed to an area where they will empty the contents, but keep the container."

With the change still nearly six months away, the county government is pushing people to comply with it sooner.

"Although we are still accepting plastic bags until Sept. 1, we encourage citizens to make the transition earlier if possible to help improve the quality of the mulch and compost that is produced, and help protect the environment," Mumby wrote.

The hours of operation at both sites are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The days of operation at the Tollgate drop-off site were recently expanded from Saturdays only to Thursday, Friday and Saturday until Nov. 30.

The Scarboro location operates Monday through Saturdays.

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