Give your rolling recycling cart a break during Frost Laws

Set your Papers, Boxes, and Bags out for collection in a green tote instead while Frost Laws are in effect, please.

What are Frost Laws?

Each spring in the north, as the ground thaws, county road commissions restrict the heavy vehicles’ use of most rural roads for a few weeks to prevent damage to the pavement.  This is often called having “Frost Laws” in effect.

Why do Frost Laws limit use of my rolling cart?

During this time, Emmet County’s standard curbside recycling trucks–which mechanically lift the carts–are limited to traveling a few major roads, so we collect your recyclables using a pickup truck and trailer or a miniature curbside truck. These lighter vehicles cannot lift the carts. This means we will not be able to empty carts during Frost Laws. Please use your green totes to set out all your recyclables.

Frost laws will begin on
Tuesday, March 3  2020!

When are Frost Laws activated? When will Frost Laws end? How will I know?

We wish there were a simple answer.  Here’s the deal: the Frost Laws period usually begins in March and they are typically lifted in April. But this is weather we are dealing with here, so exact predictions are not possible. Road agencies use formulas involving temperature and soil tests to determine when roads will be vulnerable to thaw-related damage. When we are notified, we will announce the beginning and end of Frost Laws:

  • with special editions of our e-newsletter, The Retriever, (otherwise a monthly).  Click here to subscribe.
  • on the home page here, and
  • on our phone system at 348-0640.

The lifting of Frost Laws is also announced in local newspapers.


Behind-the-scenes Video: Why can’t I use my cart during frost laws?

Need a Tote?

If you don’t have two totes, please click here to submit a request.

Need lids for your totes?

Lids are available to help contain materials in your green totes, and, thanks to a grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, they are available free while supplies last.

The lids are available for pick up

  • from the Department of Public Works (DPW) Administrative Offices in the County Building in downtown Petoskey 8:30-4:30 weekdays and
  • at the Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center at 7363 Pleasantview Road, Harbor Springs from 8:00-4:00 weekdays and 8:00-3:00 on Saturdays.

You may have older green totes for which no lids are available, but these totes can be traded in for totes with lids if you prefer.  The two types of totes in use are most easily identified by the number of handles molded into the rims:

  • 2 handles in the rim (on each of the far ends): the manufacturer does not make a lid for these totes
  • 4 handles in the rim (one on every side): lids available

Some residents prefer the 2-handled totes, because they are smaller.  To discuss trading in totes, call 348-0640 M-F 8:30-4:30.

City Carts Just Work, Work, Work!

Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Alanson do not exclude our big trucks from their roads during Frost Laws, so if you live within the city limits you may continue to use your cart all year.  No spring break for city carts–just work, work, work!


Other Exceptions to “Cart Spring Break”
Some sections of all-season roads in the townships will still be serviced with the cart-tipping trucks. Carts can be used through the Frost Laws period on the following:

In Resort Township
Manthei Road
Townsend Road
Kiebel Road
Lake Grove Road

In Bear Creek Township
River Road
McDougal Road
Atkins Road from McDougal Road to Division Road
Division Road from Atkins Road to Mitchell Road
Mitchell Road from Division Road to Boyer Road
Boyer Road
Manvel Road

In Little Traverse Township
Pleasantview Road
Quick Road
West Conway Road
North Conway Road
Powers Road east of North Conway Road