PEI

Women's Institute bags in fewer locations after 'misuse'

The familiar Roadside Cleanup bags with the P.E.I. Women's Institute logo are being handed out in fewer locations this year because of concerns that Islanders have been stockpiling them and using them all year.

'There was no control over who was getting the bags'

Stacks of the clear plastic bags with the W.I. logo can be seen across the Island after the Roadside Cleanup. (Submitted by Island Waste Management Corporation)

The familiar Roadside Cleanup bags with the P.E.I. Women's Institute logo are being handed out in fewer locations this year.

That's because of concerns that Islanders have been stockpiling them and using them all year, rather than just for the Roadside Cleanup as they were intended.

"We're having some issues with the bags," said Chris Ortenburger, environment convener for the P.E.I. Women's Institute and one of the organizers of the Annual Roadside Cleanup.

"Island Waste Management was finding that — you know how they have that logo on them — sometimes people would get bags but then the bags would be used for trash liners all throughout the year for either residences or small businesses or community centres."

These Buddhist monks collected a truckload of trash during the 2016 Roadside Cleanup. (Submitted by Island Waste Management Corporation)

'They cost money too, right'

Ortenburger understands that in some situations, people may just have extras and don't want to keep them around for next year. 

But she wants Islanders to understand that the bags are only meant to be used for the cleanup. 

"If people see that they're at a restaurant or a business and they see a Roadside Cleanup bag being used for a trash bag in the washroom, to just kind of point that out that it's not what they're there for," said Ortenburger.

"Because they cost money too, right."

The bags with the Women's Institute logo are only supposed to be used for the Roadside Cleanup. (Submitted by Island Waste Management Corporation)

Fewer bags produced

This year's reduction in bag locations to try to raise awareness about their misuse is a pilot project. The Women's Institute is also reducing the number of bags produced with the W.I. logo, from 50,000 to 20,000.

"We're all trying to figure out how to keep the bags just to be used for the Roadside Cleanup," said Ortenburger.

"I think we're going to look at a stronger educational campaign about waste in the next year." 

Chepstow - Little Harbour 4-H Club has been participating in Roadside Cleanup for many years. (Del Henderson/Facebook)

Limited locations

As part of the pilot project, the bags are only available from Island Waste Management depots across the province. In the past, they have also been available at Access P.E.I. sites.

"We would see them coming in regular black cart collection and we wanted to make sure that the bags were actually being used for the Roadside Cleanup itself," said Gerry Moore, CEO Island Waste Management Corporation.

"There was no control over who was getting the bags."

Crews from the P.E.I. Department of Transportation pick up the bags in the days following the Roadside Cleanup. (Submitted by Island Waste Management Corporation)

Moore said by asking where they are going to be cleaning up, Island Waste Management will also get valuable information.

"When they go into our sites we ask them what area they are planning to collect so we get a better idea of how many people are actually doing the cleanup and where," said Moore.

Organizers do say that if anyone is not able to get to an IWMC office, they can also put the trash they pick up in a clear plastic bag and it will be picked up from the side of the road. 

Tonnes of trash

Island Waste Management takes all the bags that have been collected by the Department of Transportation and weighs them.

In 2016, 182 loads were received weighing 40.39 metric tonnes (89,044 lbs).

"It's a tremendous program, it's a way that all Islanders can participate to keep our Island looking green and clean and we just play a small part compared to the Women's Institute who have been involved with this program for decades," said Moore.