Guide to Safe Litter Cleanup

Review these safety guidelines with volunteers prior to starting your cleanup.

Who is the contact?

Determine a representative from your group to be the contact person.

Role of the contact

The contact person is responsible for submitting all required documentation and serves as the liaison between the Township and any volunteers represented. The contact is also responsible for reminding volunteers to use good judgment and safe practice during clean up activities. The items in this guide should be discussed with the group prior to each clean up event.

Remember safety first! Under no circumstance is the welfare of a participant to be compromised during cleanup activities.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions

The following are general guidelines that may help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 while conducting a litter cleanup. Learn more about COVID-19 from the BC Center for Disease Control and always follow the latest BC COVID-19 guidelines and Provincial Health Orders.

  • Practice physical distancing from others when in public spaces such as streets and parks, maintaining at least 2 metres (6 feet) between you and anyone outside of your immediate household or core bubble. If physical distancing can not be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Do not use your hands to pick up litter, instead use the picker tool provided.
  • Wearing gloves and non-medical face masks are recommended (not supplied).
  • Avoid sharing supplies. Vests and picker tools can be labelled with a sticky label or masking tape and stored in separate garbage bags. Extra supplies are available upon request.
  • Do not participate in cleanup activities or pick up/drop off supplies if you feel sick in any way.
  • If you do feel sick, complete the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool, and seek appropriate medical attention by calling 8-1-1, your physician, or an Urgent and Primary Care Centre.

General Safety Tips

  • Avoid horseplay while working.
  • Keep an adequate supply of water.
  • Report your cleanup activities to your program coordinator as indicated on the Clean Up Report
    form. Include significant irregularities and report injuries immediately.
  • Always wear the safety vests provided or other high-visibility clothing.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs while working. Smoking and vaping are not permitted during cleanups.
  • Participants should wear suitable footwear – boots or closed-toe shoes.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather (sunscreen, hat, warm gloves, etc.).
  • Avoid use of headphones/earbuds or restrictive clothing.

Working on Streets

  • Work on one side of the street at a time.
  • Pick up litter walking against traffic. This ensures all volunteers are facing oncoming traffic and are aware of dangers.
  • Leave garbage bags at each Adopt-a-Program sign, if possible. If bags are too heavy, leave them at the location where filled.


  • Keep a cell phone handy or know where the nearest phone is.
  • Have transportation available.
  • Know the quickest route to the nearest hospital in case of a serious injury.

Safety checklist

    Take note of any areas of concern or potential danger, such as high traffic areas or locations where there is limited vision of approaching traffic.
    Ensure a responsible adult is present to supervise minors.
    Make sure you have all tools and materials required to complete your task safely and efficiently. Check that your equipment is in good working condition.
  • Watch for vehicles and bicycles.
    Drivers may not expect to see volunteers working; participants should watch for approaching vehicles.
  • Obey traffic regulations.
    Volunteers should obey all signals and traffic lights and use intersections and marked crosswalks, where available.
  • Handle dangerous refuse carefully.
    See table below for further reporting.
  • Never reach blindly to pick up an item.
    Use a tool or stick to identify the item before picking it up.
  • Work in pairs if possible.
    Working in pairs is safer than working alone as it allows volunteers to look out for each other.

Contact numbers

In the event of an emergency 9-1-1
Needle pick up 604-812-5277
To report an environmental spill 1-800-663-3456
Adopt-a-Program information and sign requests 604-532-7300
Illegal dumping, hazardous waste pick up, and other Township inquiries 604-532-7300

How to handle different materials

Hazardous items (syringes, chemicals, roadkill) Volunteers must not handle hazardous litter. Objects containing corrosive chemicals (e.g. car batteries) or objects that may carry harmful bacteria or disease (e.g. dead animals, syringes, etc.) should not be touched. Flag the location where items are found and report for pickup using the online Clean Up Report form or by calling the Township of Langley.
Biohazard Items – Used condoms, diapers, gloves, face masks, tissues and wipes Use picker tool provided to pick up and place in garbage bag.
Broken glass and other sharp items Dangerous refuse such as broken glass or other sharp objects must be handled carefully to avoid injury. Litter pickers are provided for this purpose. It is a good idea to designate one person to pick up dangerous items with a litter picker, especially if children work in your group. Put broken or sharp objects in a rigid container or wrap in paper before putting in the bag.
Large and heavy items Do not lift large or heavy items. Instead make note of the location and report for pickup using the online Clean Up Report form or by calling the Township of Langley.
Recyclables If clean (not full of dirt or liquid), recyclables such as bottles and cans can be separated and placed in the blue box or returned to a Recycling Depot for recycling. If the item is too dirty, it must be disposed of as garbage.