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Love — not litter — for your front-line grocery stores

Front-line workers at grocery stores share words of encouragement with customers. The City of Edmonton has distributed kits to help stores clean up, specifically the discarded COVID-related masks and gloves thrown to the ground by customers. Photo: Lucy Haines

The City of Edmonton wants residents to know that we’re all in this together. And besides dealing with COVID-19 closures and disruptions, the City's Spring-focused Capital City Clean-up effort reminds people that if a little more of the PPE being used when grocery shopping--masks and gloves--could end up in garbage cans, all the better.

Earlier this month, the City started to deliver Capital City Clean Up kits to grocery stores where customers have discarded COVID-19 protection on the ground.

“We see the snow thawing, which leaves a lot of litter on the ground, but, we’re specifically seeing issues with personal protective equipment, so, that’s the gloves and the face masks that people are using today to keep themselves safe,” said Tanya Laughren, Community Relations Advisor, Capital City Clean Up, in a news release.

"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.” That fact illicited a quick response from Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson on Twitter, where he wrote, "It's very disappointing. The city is working to help retailers deploy more bins for people to dispose of their post-shopping PPE more responsibly."

"If you’re using protective gear, such as masks and gloves, PLEASE dispose of your items properly. Throw them in the garbage. Throwing them on the ground does nothing to contain the virus — it litters our beautiful city and causes extra unnecessary work to clean up," added the City of Edmonton in a tweet.

Crews are reminding businesses it’s their responsibility to keep their grounds clean and to provide garbage receptacles for customers--and then reminding customers to use them. 

Each business gets a cleanup kit, including a litter grabber, gloves and garbage bags. “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, as well,” said Laughren.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not recyclable. 

Laughren said the team will take another look in weeks ahead 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 pharmacies and hardware stores. 

She said everyone can join the general effort to keep Edmonton looking its best at this time of year. 

“If you are seeing something like this and you do have concerns, please call 311,” Laughren said. “You’ll be directed to Capital City Clean Up where we can track and keep note of where the issues are in the city and really address them.”