Columbia residents are searching for solutions to dispose of leaves this fall under the city’s trash program.

COLUMBIA - As mid-Missouri reaches further into fall, leaves are beginning to cover yards and sidewalks around the community.

The city of Columbia implemented a new trash program back in February that requires residents to use specific logo trash bags on trash pickup days.

The program allows for 104 bags a year which equals two bags per week for the year. However, the increase of yard waste during the fall could require Columbia residents to have to purchase more bags.

The Columbia City Council met to discuss the concerns of residents and some solutions to disposing leaves under the new trash policy.

"I've heard complaints for sure and I think other council people have too," Ward 4 Councilman Ian Thomas said. "I suspect that's why the staff is considering this special two-week pick up program in the fall to reduce the burden of that."

Thomas said David Sorell, the city's Department of Utilities director, mentioned at the meeting a two-week pick up program that would help with the yard waste clean up.

"The council generally nodded and said we think that's [the two week pick up program] fine," Thomas said. "Obviously it'll be a cost, but from what we're hearing from constituents, it seemed like it was needed."

Thomas said he has not yet heard more about the program but believes Sorell is working out a date and a strategy to implement it. 

One solution Thomas recommended was composting yard waste.

"It would actually make a lot more sense if people wanted to pick up sticks, grit and mow the grass, to compost on site using an aerobic degradation process which creates really good compost which can be put back into the garden," Thomas said.

The city has mulch sites where residents can also take yard waste, Thomas said.

"The city essentially has a massive compost heap, and they turn it regularly so that it is aerated and it bends down into good new soil, which you can then pick up and use on your garden," Thomas said. "If you don't want to do the composting at home, you can take it there."

One Columbia resident, Ashley Minor, said the only clear solution for her family is bringing back rolling carts.

"The whole thing made me start thinking about not only ourselves, but a lot of people, friends and family who can't lug these huge trash bags to their curb and maybe don't have the means to go buy more trash bags," Minor said. 

Minor and her husband work from home, and they have four children. With one child still in diapers and as a family of six, they create a lot of trash. With yard waste increasing as more leaves fall, Minor thinks the trash issue will continue.

"It's going to create people lugging their things to dumpsters that don't belong to them, or lugging them out into nature and just letting nature take care of it," Minor said.

Minor said if her trash exceeds the two bag per week limit with the yard waste increase, they will burn it at her family's farm.

"In our case, we'll bag it all up, put it on trailers and take it to our farm and burn it at our farm, which is what normal people do," Minor said. "I think, either people are going to start burning it in their own backyards, or we're just going to have a lot more waste around the city, which is already out of control."

If residents exceed the two bags per week limit, they have an opportunity to purchase more.

The Pay As You Throw program allows residents the option to purchase additional bags in rolls of five for $10. The $2-per-bag fee for additional bags covers extra costs for disposal fees and more, according to the City of Columbia.

Matthew Nestor, community relations specialist for the city of Columbia, told KOMU in an email that there will be more information coming out later this week, along with the city council agenda for next Monday.

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