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Council Approves Biodegradable Bags for City Collection

September 8, 2009 -- In an effort to save taxpayers substantial money and keep biodegradable yard waste from needlessly filling up costly landfills, the City of Houston will soon begin requiring the use of biodegradable bags for such waste.

The City Council on September 2, 2009, approved an ordinance amending Chapter 39, Article IV, of the Houston Code of Ordinances, Collection Services.  This change requires residents to use “bio bags” for City collection of green organic material beginning 90 days from passage of the ordinance.

“Each year tons of leaves, grass clippings and small branches are needlessly tossed into landfills.  Diverting an anticipated 60,000 tons of organic material per year from area landfills will result in disposal savings of up to $2.0 million,” said Mayor White.

“There are free alternatives to purchasing biodegradable bags for City collection,” said Harry Hayes, Solid Waste Management Department Director.  Residents may leave their grass clippings on their lawn (grasscycling) or compost their yard trimmings for use in flower beds or gardens rather than bagging.  This is a natural and excellent lawn fertilization product.  “Twenty-one states have already banned yard trimmings from landfills.  Houston’s move is a step in the right direction to preserve valuable landfill airspace.  This was prominently noted in the Mayor’s Solid Waste Task Force Commission’s Final Report in 2007 (chaired by Controller Annise Parker and Businessman Lorne Bain),” added Hayes.

Bio bags are made from bio-polymers or other renewable resources and decompose naturally like other organic materials.  Regular plastic bags take over 100 years to break down.  Bio bags begin decomposing in as little as three (3) months and leave no harmful residue behind.

Residents are reminded that the organic material must be in biodegradable bags bearing the City of Houston logo that will be made available in retail stores throughout the city beginning November 1, 2009.  For more information on bio bags or composting, log on to

The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste service to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.