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CUMBERLAND — All trash for curbside pickup, including items in garbage cans, must now be in plastic bags, according to city officials.

Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss and the City Council voted unanimously during a virtual Tuesday meeting to pass an ordinance requiring the bagging of all refuse. 

Mike Cohen, city attorney, said the change comes at the request of Burgmeier’s Hauling, which provides trash collection for the city.

The measure is due to the coronavirus threat. 

“They have asked that the changes be made,” Cohen said. “They want refuse to be placed in plastic bags. It doesn’t matter if you are putting them outside or inside of garbage cans, they want it in plastic bags. So however you do it, that is how it’s got to be.

“If you are putting refuse outside of containers, they need to be in commercially-produced plastic bags; they can’t just be grocery bags. They have to actually be more substantial bags. If you are putting them in a grocery bag and it is not in a trash can, it is more subject to breaking apart or being messed with by stray animals.”

Margie Woodring, the city’s assistant city administrator, said, “Some of the concerns from Burgmeier are health issues for the employees because of the trash not contained in bags, and that puts them more at risk.”

Some officials feared the measure places an added cost on some residents.

“I’m in definite agreement with it being bagged,” Morriss said. “But my only concern — talking about commercial trash bags — is that it could be a difficult burden for some members of our community.”

Councilman Eugene Frazier said he “puts the garbage out in a can with a sealed lid.” He said, “I’m thinking about those people that are tight for money, having to start buying the bags. It can cause a little bit of pressure. But I want to look out for the health of the workers, too, so I will pull back on that and start with more bags. I can imagine some of the things that get thrown out without a bag.”

Jeff Rhodes, city administrator, said garbage collection “is statistically one of the more dangerous occupations we have across this land. For a number of reasons, not just for that reason. Stepping off trucks is a dangerous occupation.”

Councilwoman Laurie Marchini said placing unbagged refuse in a can may be problematic.

“On windy days, if trash cans gets knocked over, it will be all over the neighborhood and it can be a problem for the neighbors,” she said.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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