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Lawn Care Buy Back Program

What is a Lawn Care Buy Back Program?
Gas-powered lawnmowers contribute to regional smog by emitting pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). By using electric, battery or non-motorized mowers, citizens improved the Chicago region's air quality. To encourage the use of cleaner mowers, communities or businesses can organize lawnmower "buy back" events that allow households to trade in their old lawnmowers and receive a discount and/or rebate on the purchase of a cleaner lawnmower. Often, communities will pair buy back events with gas can trade-in events.

What benefits do this strategy provide?
Improve regional air quality and public health.
VOCs contribute to increased production of ground-level ozone, or smog, that inflames lung tissue and aggravates a range of respiratory ailments, including asthma. One avenue to address this public health issue is by encouraging the use of cleaner lawn equipment and garden equipment. Within the Chicago region, the use of lawn equipment accounts for 60 tons of VOC emissions per day in the summer. Retiring 1,000 gasoline-powered lawnmowers spares the region approximately 26 tons of VOCs emissions.

Have any communities implemented such a program?

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, along with various partners, sponsors numerous lawnmower buy back events throughout the Chicagoland region. For example, The City of Chicago's Department of Environment co-sponsored its first lawnmower buy back event in spring of 2000. City residents received a $60 rebate from the Department of Environment and a significant manufacturers discount when they turned in their old gasoline powered mowers and purchased a qualifying "clean" mower.

In 2000, a total of 556 lawnmowers, 453 four-stroke and 103 two-stroke, were traded in and destroyed, reducing associated VOCs by 5.04 tons per summer season.

In 2001, the City held a one-day event and collected 242 gasoline-powered mowers. This resulted in 2.55 tons of VOCs reduced per summer season. As a further environmental benefit, old gasoline powered lawnmowers that were turned in were destroyed and recycled into scrap metal. Similar programs have been implemented in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Portland, and Phoenix.

How do we get started?
To start a Lawnmower Buy Back Program in your community, review this fact sheet and the reporting form. A number of factors must be taken into consideration, including where to hold the event, how to dispose of retired mowers as well as oil and gas drained from them, and how many manufacturers you can get to participate. If an event is held, the attached pdf form, to the left, needs to be completed.

CLEAN AIR COUNTS:   177 North State Street, 5th Floor