How One City Is Using Branded Trash Bags to Limit Waste
The city of Columbia, Mo., has passed legislation that only trash bags with official city branding on them will be accepted by sanitation workers in an effort to minimize excess waste and improve safety conditions for workers.
Columbia had previously issued trash bags and recycling bags with the city’s logo on them, which residents can redeem with vouchers sent in the mail. But, starting Feb. 1, the logoed bags will be the only ones sanitation workers accept.
According to KRCG 13, the city is issuing each residence 104 33 gal. bags, equaling about two bags per week per customer, for the year. People can buy more if they run out, with five bags costing $10.
The city is issuing 104, 33-gallon bags, which equals out to two bags a week for the year however, the utilities director said customers are welcome to put out as many as they please, but may run out and will have to pay for extra. pic.twitter.com/SkTuJ4Wy9s
— Kyreon Lee (@KyreonLee) January 20, 2021
It’s a unique way to use promotional decoration as a means of solving a problem beyond just advertising and brand awareness. By limiting citizens to the branded bags, which they receive a set amount of at first, the city hopes to reduce waste while providing relief for sanitation workers who are overrun with work.
“We’re picking up trash and recycle,” one sanitation worker told KRCG 13. “We’re getting beat up. It’s rough on us. All of us guys, we come to work every day. We try to make it a fun job, but it’s brutal.”
Promotional products have a significant hand in efforts to go green across the world. As countries, states and cities limit or outright ban single-use plastics, branded tote bags become much more valuable. As single-use plastic bottles begin to disappear (metaphorically–it'll be a long, long time before they disappear physically), branded water bottles become the norm. The same can be said about apparel made from recycled materials, electronics that use sustainable energy, or even bicycles.
These branded trash bags, while not necessarily welcome at first for Columbia residents who go over their allotment, will limit the amount of trash set out by incentivizing smaller output. If it works here, it could spread to other municipalities, providing opportunities for local vendors to fulfill the orders.