Isle Be Green Program
What is Isle Be Green?
Isle Be Green started in 2009 as a plastic bag recycling initiative. Over the years the program has gained momentum and ultimately has become the County’s recycling initiative. In essence, Isle Be Green is the one-stop-shop for all things recycling in Isle of Wight County. So, if you want to know about what, where, and how to recycle, look here.
Background of the Program:
How the program started
Isle of Wight County’s agricultural community has been greatly impacted by plastic bag litter. The plastic becomes entangled in crops, mainly cotton, and contaminates it. This “trash” cannot be eliminated through the ginning process causing the grade, or quality, of the cotton to be reduced. The County is also aware that a calf died after ingesting a plastic bag, which was littered onto a farmer’s pasture. Plastic bag litter also has negative impacts on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, economic activity, and the aesthetic appeal of local communities throughout Hampton Roads.
Our Solution to the Bag Problem
Isle of Wight County, along with the Virginia Retail Federation, formed the Virginia Plastic Bag Coalition to examine the issues related to plastic bags. Members of this coalition include the Retail Alliance, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, HR Clean, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, local governments, plastic bag recyclers, plastic bag manufacturers, and many others. After much research and analysis, the Coalition recognized that consumer behavior must change if there is to be a decrease in the amount of plastic bag litter in Isle of Wight County.
Reducing plastic bag litter with the assistance of a grant
The County was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in the amount of $28,000 to implement a pilot plastic bag recycling project within the County. This pilot project is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth and hopefully will be a model for other localities.
Plastic Bag Program Specifics
The County distributed and promoted the sale and use of reusable shopping bags to shoppers at their visits to grocery, convenience and other retail stores throughout the County. The County printed 500 reusable bags to distribute at the event kick-off event on August 5, 2009, and ordered an additional 3,000 reusable bags to distribute at the County Fair to promote the program. The County continues to distribute reusable bags at the County Fair and various bag giveaway events throughout the year.
The County purchased a baler to bale the plastic collected from the County “dump” sites and the Smithfield Square Shopping Center. The County sells the plastic film to Trex Company.
The County partnered with Trex and Farm Fresh to create a plastic bag collection competition in all five (5) elementary schools in Isle of Wight County. The County continues to operate a competition annually with prizes varying each year from a school-wide pizza party to cash prizes for “green” projects and Trex benches. Windsor Elementary has won the competition each year for three years.
This website, www.islebegreen.com, was created by Ringer/rg pro bono for this project. In addition, a Twitter account has been established.
The County sought to establish credible measurements of the amount of plastic bag litter and number of bags recycled in the County. The County conducted three litter surveys specific to plastic bags. These surveys were conducted with the assistance of HR Clean utilizing the Keep America Beautiful model. The County continues to keep records with the amount of plastic collected at all of the collection points as well as through the school collection program.
To view the mid-term grant report to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, click here.
To view the final grant report to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, click here.
Cigarette Litter Grant
Keep Virginia Beautiful awarded Isle of Wight County a $750 cigarette litter prevention program grant in 2012. This grant money has been used to purchased pocket ashtrays along with cigarette disposal receptacles for the Town of Smithfield. Additionally, the County created an educational brochure about the harmful effects of cigarette litter.