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New trash bag handout begins in Charleston

Kenny Kemp
Rose Feazell, an employee at the Purple Onion, hands out garbage bags to Bryan Warren on Saturday. It was the first day that Charleston residents could pick free bags up at Charleston businesses.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston residents can now pick up free trash bags at area businesses after the city's new distribution program kicked off Saturday.

Residents who received coupons in the mail for city-supplied trash bags can pick bags up at Foodland and Drug Emporium in Kanawha City, Drug Emporium on Patrick Street, Pile Hardware on the West Side and the Purple Onion in the Capitol Market during store business hours.

Allen Hathaway, manager at the Purple Onion, said the process has gone smoothly but that the store hasn't seen a large amount of people with coupons come in.

"We're hoping to increase foot traffic," he said. "Most folks are just coming in for bags and leaving."

The participating retailers volunteered to assist the city with the new distribution process. Other stores might be added later, according to a news release from the Mayor's Office.

Charleston has given out trash bags to residents since 1972, when bags where first supplied in response to a garbage collectors strike

In 2012, the City Council twice voted down measures that would have ended the free-bags program, which actually is not free -- it is paid for through residents' garbage bills.

Mayor Danny Jones has called the program a necessity and said that, without it, litter would be far more common.

City officials decided to discontinue the old method of using city workers to distribute bags at a designated location -- most recently along Pennsylvania Avenue, beneath Interstate 64 -- to save money and encourage people to visit participating retailers, Jones' release said.

Trash bags no longer are available at the City Clerk's Office or the City Manager's Office. WasteZero, the company that won the city's annual trash bag contract, will conduct a second distribution period in February.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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