Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open to the public by appointment only at this time. Please call or email 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Mon. - Fri. The permit office is open to the public with or without appointment 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

703-324-5230
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 448, Fairfax, Va 22035

John Kellas,
Deputy Director, Solid Waste Management

Elimination of Plastic Bags for Yard Waste Collection FAQs

Grass clippings, leaves, straw, brush, branches, vines, and flowers.

Yard waste can be managed on-site, collected curbside, or hauled away by homeowners, landscapers, or bulk collectors. Yard waste must be collected at least once per week if not managed on-site, or self-hauled to county facilities.

It is brought to County facilities and woody material is ground into mulch. Free mulch is available for pick-up by county residents at both facilities. Bagged material (i.e., twigs, leaves, grass, vines, etc.) is transferred to permitted composting facilities where it is converted into compost and other soil amendments.

The county only collects from 10% of the households in the county. These areas are referred to as Sanitary Districts, formed through a formal petition process. All other households are serviced through private collectors.

Yard waste is collected separately from March 1-December 24. Check with your collector for the weekly pickup schedule.

When yard waste is collected in plastic bags, it gets mixed into the composting process. It is very difficult to remove plastic shreds from the final product entirely. Plastic in the compost, even in small amounts, reduces the quality of the compost and provides a pathway for the plastic to get into our environment.

On-site strategies for managing yard waste include grasscycling, mulching or grinding leaves or branches, and backyard composting. For more details on these methods, visit the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District or the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

There are classes, books, videos, and webinars available that provide instruction on backyard composting. Three great resources are the Virginia Cooperative Extension or the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.

Some landscapers will remove yard waste generated during their visits and haul it away, while others will bag it and leave it at the curb for collection. You should discuss this with your landscaper.

Yes, this applies to all yard waste set out for curbside collection or brought to County facilities for recycling.

You can add leaves to your compost pile, mulch them into your lawn, or check with local landscaping companies about vacuum leaf collection. It can be an economical and labor-saving way to manage fall leaves.

Check with your hauler. The county no longer provides carts for yard waste. Carts and other reusable containers or bags can be purchased online and at hardware, garden, and big-box stores.

No, paper yard waste bags are available online and in grocery, discount, hardware, and garden stores.

No, plastic bags should not be used for the collection of yard waste.

You can often return unopened boxes of bags, or the bags can be used for household refuse.

It depends on who collects your garbage. If you use a private collector, ask them about the number and type of containers you can use.

Please remember that there is a 50 pound limit to bags or reusable containers of yard waste.

No, yard waste must be set out for separate collection from March 1 through December 24. Due to limited generation, space constraints, and contracts with landscapers, townhome communities may be exempted from this rule, but only after being approved for an "Alternative Yard Waste Recycling System".

No, recyclables go to a different facility that is not equipped to manage yard waste.

No, air quality is adversely affected by burning yard waste. Fairfax County air pollution control regulations (Section 103-3-11, Fairfax County Code) prohibits open burning, and 9VAC5-130-40-A-5 of the Virginia Administrative Code only allows open burning where there is no regularly scheduled collection service for yard waste.

No, leaves on wet streets can create hazardous driving conditions. Placing leaves in wooded areas may also constitute encroachment and yard waste can also include diseased plants, or non-native insects, that can negatively impact woodlands.

Using reusable containers and paper bags will not attract rodents, or other pests, so long as you are only disposing of yard waste. Please do not put rotting vegetables or fruits in your yard waste setouts. Dispose of this material as trash or bring it to one of the county’s food scrap drop-off locations for composting.

Diseased, noxious, and invasive plants should never be included with yard waste for collection, rather this material is trash and should be disposed of as such.

Your service provider charges you for three "waste" streams – trash, recycling, and yard waste – these services are bundled together and cannot be unbundled, even if you wanted to self-haul or use a landscaper to remove yard waste from your property.

Yes. The change takes effect on Monday, March 1, 2021 and will require county residents who have curbside collection of yard waste to use reusable containers or paper yard waste bags to set out grass, leaves, and brush. Although the new rule takes effect March 1, the Solid Waste Management Program will be exercising enforcement discretion for a six-week period to allow time for customer notification and education on the new rule. Enforcement will begin Monday, April 19, 2021.

After April 19, 2021, yard waste brought to county facilities in plastic bags will not be accepted. Commercial yard waste loads containing plastic bags will be subject to the current penalty rate of $100/ton.

After April 19, 2021, yard waste brought to county facilities in plastic bags will not be accepted. Commercial yard waste loads containing plastic bags will be subject to the current penalty rate of $100/ton.

No, there is no limit. The cost is $62 per ton; the minimum charge is $11. Check out Residential Disposal Fees and Regulations for further information.

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