COLUMBIA — Gone are the days of stuffing dead leaves, branches and other yard waste into the city's clear yard waste bags.
Starting this week, Columbia residents can dispose of yard waste in any bag, box or other disposal container and set it out with the trash on regular trash day. The change is just one benefit of the new bioreactor at the city's landfill.
The bioreactor will inject liquids into the waste to accelerate bio-stabilization and produce methane at a higher rate for use as a renewable energy source. The bioreactor will produce more methane than compost would produce in a city landfill, and at a faster rate.
Richard Wieman, solid waste utility manager for the city, said the new yard waste disposal will also save the city money and landfill space.
"As long as the bioreactor is used effectively, it basically replaces fossil fuel," Wieman said.
Last year, the city distributed a total of 420,723 clear compost bags, according to performance indicators included in the city budget for fiscal year 2009. These bags will no longer be for sale in local retail stores or distributed by the city, but they still can be used to dispose of yard waste and trash.
Wieman said elimination of the bags will save the city money, but it would be difficult to know how much.
"It's not a one-to-one replacement," Wieman said. "It's kind of a hybrid system."
Only yard waste picked up by city trucks will be taken to the landfill. All other yard waste will continue to go to the city's compost facility. Wieman said trash and yard waste need not be separated.
All other requirements for yard waste disposal will remain the same. Bags and boxes must weigh less than 50 pounds. Limbs must be bundled and tied and should not exceed 4 feet in length, 2 feet in diameter or 50 pounds per bundle.
The city's blue bags, used for recycling containers such as food cans, glass jars and bottles, aluminum, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic items, are still available.
Leaves and grass can also be taken to the city's mulch sites at Capen Park or on Parkside Drive. The city's compost facility, at 5700 Peabody Road near the city's landfill, also accepts commercial and residential yard waste for a fee.