The Future of Leaf Collection

Published on
08/15/2023
The County Conversation - Vacuum Leaf Service

 

As we look toward a more sustainable future, possible changes are on the horizon for our vacuum leaf service. 

Vacuum leaf service will be provided through the upcoming 2023-2024 season; however, we are proposing to discontinue service permanently after this winter. The Board of Supervisors will decide the future of the service at a public hearing this fall.

In a recent episode of The County Conversation podcast, Eric Forbes, deputy director of the Solid Waste Management Program for Public Works and Environmental Services, discusses the department’s recommendation to discontinue the seasonal vacuum leaf service. 
 

 

Public Works reports that vacuum leaf collection has negatively impacted its ability to deliver core trash, recycling and yard waste collection services. The agency developed an after-action report, which describes the root causes of service delays during the 2022-2023 winter season and provides information that supports its proposed service removal. Find the report here.

"Our department is constantly evaluating our services to ensure we meet the needs of our residents efficiently and sustainably," Forbes explains. "Unfortunately, the vacuum leaf service has become increasingly challenging to provide as demand continues to rise. Factors such as a shortage of available drivers, the impact of the pandemic and the need to focus on essential services have all led to this recommendation."

One key factor influencing the decision to discontinue the vacuum leaf service is safety. 

"Residents' concern for safety is crucial. Blowing leaves to the curb line or in front of their houses might cause blockages in stormwater drainage systems, leading to potential accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles. It's important that we address these safety concerns to prioritize the well-being of our community."

The county is committed to achieving zero waste by 2040. Forbes highlights the importance of source reduction and refusal practices and notes that leaves can be repurposed as mulch or compost and provide beneficial nutrients. This not only reduces waste but also enhances stormwater runoff conditions and contributes to a healthier environment.

 

"We encourage residents to think about alternative ways to manage their yard waste and reduce their carbo footprint." - Eric Forbes

 

While the vacuum leaf service might no longer be available, we offer several alternatives for yard waste management. 

Backyard composting is an excellent way to recycle yard waste and create rich compost for your garden. Residents can also hire private companies or small landscape businesses to remove yard waste. Another option is to utilize the yard waste route provided by a trash and recycling pickup service.

 

WORKING TOGETHER TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

We are recommending strategic changes to our vacuum leaf service to prioritize essential services, address safety concerns and align with sustainability goals. While the discontinuation of the service may pose initial challenges, embracing alternative options for yard waste management will contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for our community.

"We understand that change can be challenging, but it's essential that we adapt to ensure the long-term sustainability of our community. We are here to help residents understand the alternatives available for yard waste management and make the transition as smooth as possible," Forbes said.

There is a survey where you can provide feedback, available until Friday, Aug. 18. Visit engage.fairfaxcounty.gov/leaf-collection to learn more about the recommendation to discontinue the vacuum leaf service and provide feedback on the survey.

 

THE COUNTY CONVERSATION PODCAST

The “County Conversation” is a podcast featuring employees and subject matter experts from the Fairfax County Government discussing programs, services and items of interest to residents of Fairfax County. Click here to listen to past episodes of "County Conversation.”

To find other county podcasts, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/podcasts.
 

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