Yellow trash bag program sees cleaner chinatown; shop owners suggest improvements

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It has been almost six months since the city launched a program to help reduce the amount of trash on Chinatown sidewalks by introducing yellow plastic bags for business owners to use, but some say there is room for improvements.

Some business owners and shoppers say the streets of Chinatown were like a dumpster, but not anymore.

Alice Cheng who owns a business of fresh produce says she has seen a positive change.

She said, “You know before the bags, people walked around and it smelled really bad and then some of the people didn’t come into my business.”

Since last Fall, the city has been asking businesses to use the yellow plastic bags with the city seal, the bags are thicker than usual and the cost comes to about 60 cents a piece.

The goal is to keep waste off the curb and people from tearing into them.

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock with the Chinatown Business and Community Association says more people are signing-up to be part of the program.

Shubert-kwock said, “I think it brought awareness that it was a critical situation when we had mountains of trash.”

However, not all solutions are perfect, Cheng said the bags could be difficult to handle.

“The bag is very good to use but the only thing is that it is hard to tie,” Cheng said. “If they decide to get a string around it so it’s easy to close and tie on tight.”

She said the city workers stop every morning except Sundays to collect the yellow bags, but she has encountered issues from other shops who dump their bags illegally on her side of the curb for pick-up.

The shop owners installed a camera outside in order to catch the people in the act.

In a statement Environmental Services Deputy Director, Timothy Houghton, said they are not planning on expanding the program to other parts of the city.

“The ENV extended the yellow bag collection period in Chinatown to the just under 100 accounts at no cost to the businesses.” Houghton said. “Meanwhile, ENV is negotiating with the Union to change to locking carts that should deter people from ripping open the bags; however, an implementation date has not been set.”

Shubert-Kwock adds that the trash pick-up should also include other types of garbage bags and not just the yellow bags designated by the city.

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