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New Jersey Distributes Leaf Bags

After the initial delivery of five bags per household, additional bags will be available at the Department of Public Works. The new ordinance also allows for unbagged leaves to be placed at the curb in 32-gallon containers. Photo Credit:

With a new leaf-bagging requirement hanging over the heads of Rutherford residents, the borough ordered nearly $17,000 worth of landscaping bags -- roughly 52,140 biodegradable brown bags -- and will distribute them free of charge during the first week of October.

The council instituted the unpopular leaf-bagging protocol in July as part of its plan to comply with the state's storm water regulations. The decision was reached after the borough's environmental committee reviewed several options, including suspending one garbage pickup per week in favor of additional leaf collection, Mayor John Hipp said.

Rutherford has yet to comply with the storm water regulations set up by the state Department of Environmental Protection in July.

Municipalities have three foliage options, explained Barry Chalofsky, head of the DEP's non-point source pollution unit. They can discontinue leaf pickup; require leaves to be put curbside in bags or containers; or, allow leaves to be put on the street. But, if a municipality chooses option three, the leaves have to be removed within seven days.

"We have never been able to meet the deadline," Hipp said, adding that, in some cases, the leaves have been on the streets for three or four weeks. He continued, "The DEP hasn't started issuing fines -- yet. But that grace period is expected to end next year."

Whether or not leaf bagging will save Rutherford money remains to be seen. "We anticipate savings, but we could be wrong," Hipp said. "This was not intended to save money; this was intended to comply with regulations."

Source: Susan C. Moeller, The Leader,

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June 18, 2019, 9:09 pm PDT

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