The City of Edmonton is providing clean-up kits to grocery stores and pharmacies as part of an expanded Capital City Clean Up program.
“We’re starting to get the snow thawing, which leaves a lot of litter on the ground,” said Tanya Laughren, the program’s community relations advisor. “But we’re specifically seeing issues with personal protective equipment… that’s the gloves and the face masks that people are using today to keep themselves safe.
“We’re specifically seeing them in places like grocery stores… where they’re going in and using the carts, being in the public, and then they’re disposing of them on the ground, unfortunately.”
Capital City Clean Up crews and municipal enforcement officers are teaming up on an education initiative this week, starting with approximately 85 grocery stores.
It is a business’ responsibility to keep its property clean and to provide garbage cans for customers. Crews will be reminding customers to use those garbages.
“It’s a tough time right now, and we get that you need to keep yourself safe, but it is important to not leave these things on the ground,” said Laughren.
COVID-19-related PPE has been piling in up around shops in Edmonton and many residents are frustrated.
“People have got to stop doing this,” said Ben Johnson, who’s been routinely picking up gloves and masks outside essential service businesses.
He feels it’s more than just litter; it’s hazardous waste. He’s worried children will start picking them up.
“I filled a shopping bag with them and every day I go out and find more of them,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean we should go around walking in a panic on it but it doesn’t mean we should be stupid either.”
Grocery store owners are fed up too. Many businesses have complained to the city about PPE being discarded outside stores.
The cleanup kits the city is providing stores will include a litter grabber, gloves, garbage bags and educational posters.
Laughren said the team will take another look after a week or so to see if there’s an improvement in the PPE litter in grocery store parking lots before deciding whether to expand the effort to include businesses like hardware stores.
“We want to make sure it gets contained in proper disposal bins,” said Laughren.
“If we’re using them to prevent the pick-up of COVID-19, then we can assume that the virus may be on those items.”
The city has also asked businesses to put more garbage bins in high-traffic areas, outside stores and in parking lots near shopping cart storage.