Alameda County bans plant debris from landfills

To facilitate composting and to reduce the amount of yard trimmings routed to landfills, Alameda County, California, will begin enforcing its landfill ban, which requires that plant debris be separated from trash and properly deposited in designated “clean green” areas of disposal facilities.

Additional information about the Landfill Ban can be found at www.LandfillBan.org, or by calling the Landfill Ban Hotline at 888-893-9929.

The target audience of the Alameda County landfill ban includes landscapers and gardeners who produce and haul substantial amounts of plant debris (grass, leaves, shrubbery and tree trimmings) to Alameda County facilities.

Other large producers/haulers of green debris, such as property managers, municipalities, parks and institutions in Alameda County will also be impacted. The ban was issued in early 2009 by StopWaste.Org, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority. Fines for landfill ban violations went into effect on January 1, 2010.

Enforcement of the landfill ban is critical to helping Alameda County realize its goal of diverting 75 percent of all waste from county landfills by 2010. Plant debris can be composted and turned into valuable soil amendment. However, if landscapers and other maintenance workers mix even a small amount of garbage, such as fast food containers and construction materials, with the plant debris, the entire load is contaminated, and cannot be accepted at the designated clean green areas of disposal facilities.

Landscapers and gardeners that violate the ban by mixing plant debris with trash in collection bins or by bringing plant debris contaminated with other materials to disposal facilities are subject to citations of $100, $200 or $500 for first, second or additional violations within a year, or to equivalent penalty surcharges on the dump fees.

Individual residents of Alameda County can continue to place yard trimmings into their green organics carts, along with food scraps and food-soiled paper, to be collected for composting.

Plant debris is defined as:

  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Shrubbery
  • Vines
  • Tree branches and trimmings

Palm tree trimmings and sod are not accepted at most composting facilities and should be separated from the plant debris types listed above.