Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Adopt-A-Highway and The Great NS Pick-Me-Up?

Both programs provide supplies and facilitation for volunteer teams looking to clean up litter in Nova Scotia! Both programs provide you with free clean-up supplies including gloves and clear/blue bags and will help you in disposing of your litter properly.


The Adopt-A-Highway program gives volunteers the opportunity to adopt a section of roadway for a three-year period. During this time, volunteers agree to complete two clean-ups per year, usually one in the spring and one in the fall. After three years, you have the opportunity to renew your contract or disband your group. Signage is also given to our volunteer groups on either end of their adopted section after two clean-ups have been completed.


The Great NS Pick-Me-Up program is a one-time litter facilitation program. You register a clean-up for an approved roadway, beach, shoreline, park, trail, or community of your choosing, complete the clean-up, and are in no way obligated to do it again in the same location. You can register for as many or as few clean-ups throughout the province at various locations as you’d like. There is no signage for clean-ups through the Pick-Me-Up program.

How much does it cost to adopt a highway?

It’s Free! By ‘adopting’ a section of roadway you are pledging to keep that roadside free from litter. You are agreeing to complete 1 – 2 litter cleanups per year, helping to keep our province clean and beautiful. We also supply garbage bags and safety vests for your cleanups.

What supplies will I receive when I complete my cleanup?

We work with the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) to supply you with garbage bags and safety vests for every cleanup. Depending on your location, the TIR may also be able to assist with the removal of the collected garbage/litter.

What should I do with left-over supplies when I have finished my clean-up?

We encourage groups to save their supplies for their next clean-up! 

How do we dispose of our litter once we have finished our clean-up?

When speaking with the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) regarding the approval of your cleanup permit, please discuss your litter disposal options.

The collected litter may be divided among the participants and added to their roadside garbage collection.

Please note: this material will count towards the current bag limit per single unit household.

What is the smallest length of roadway that can be adopted?

We recommend a five-kilometer stretch of roadway for adoption; however, we are able to approve adoptions one kilometer and longer.

When will my road signage be installed?

After two seasonal (Spring/Fall) cleanups, your signage can be installed by the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW). Once you have completed your two seasonal  cleanups please contact our office to request your signage be installed.

What is a 'Seasonal Cleanup'?

Under the Adopt-A-Highway program we ask that our volunteers complete a cleanup once in the spring and one in the fall. Each cleanup would be considered a seasonal cleanup. If a group completed a cleanup in the spring and fall that would be considered two seasonal cleanups.

Who installs our road signage?

After two seasonal (Spring/Fall) cleanups our office can request the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) install roadway signage. 

What is a cleanup permit?

A cleanup permit is needed for any provincial roadside litter cleanup and allows you the permission to complete your cleanup. These permits can be obtained by visiting the Forms portion of our website and include the directions on how to obtain approval for the permit.

How do I obtain a cleanup permit?

Permits can be found under the  Forms section of our website.

How do I get my cleanup permit approved?

Roadside cleanup permit approval can be obtained by following the following steps:

  1. Choose a few possible dates for a clean-up in case one or more are unavailable.
  2. Contact the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) and confirm your clean-up date. Please contact the TIR by calling the telephone number located on your approved adoption application. You may also contact PW by calling their hotline at 1-888-432-3233; you will then be redirected to the appropriate office based on the location of your desired clean-up. Please obtain verbal approval to complete the cleanup from the PW representative over the phone.

You will also want to arrange a date to pick up your supplies: garbage bags, safety vests, and flagging tape. Additionally, you will need to arrange a mutually acceptable garbage disposal plan.

Who do I contact to get the cleanup permit approved?

Please contact the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) by calling the telephone number located on your approved adoption application. You may also call their hotline at 1-888-432-3233; you will then be redirected to the appropriate office based on the location of your desired clean-up.

What do I do with my cleanup permit after my cleanup is completed?

Please send the completed permit to our office via:


Mail: 45 School Street, Mahone Bay, NS B0J 2E0
Or, on complete our online form on our website

Collecting data is an integral part of our program and we are extremely grateful for permit submissions.

What roads are available for adoption? Does it have to be a 'Highway'?

Great Question!

100-Series highways are not available to be adopted due to safety concerns; however, all other provincial roadways are available to be adopted, subject to TIR approval.

If the roadway that you wish to adopt is not a provincially maintained we would be happy to work with you to see if the maintaining authority would be interested in overseeing an adoption.

Contact us to discuss your options, we are happy to help.

Check out the Map section of our website to see which roadways have already been adopted.

How do I know if my desired roadway is a provincial section of roadway or not?

Please contact us to discuss the roadway authority.

What is an Interchange? Can they be adopted?

An interchange is another term for an exit ramp that vehicles use to enter and exit 100-series highways.

Interchanges can be adopted and are subject to the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works (PW) approval.

Check out our Map to see which interchanges are waiting to be adopted.

How do I contact the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works?

The PW may be contacted by calling the telephone number located on your approved adoption application or by calling their hotline at 1-888-432-3233. You will then be redirected to the correct office based upon the location of your cleanup site.

The litter that I collected has not been picked up, what do I do now?

Please contact the PW contact located on your approved adoption application or their hotline at 1-888-432-3233 and ask for an update on the garbage collection.

You may also contact us, we would be happy to  help.

Do we have to separate recyclables from regular garbage during our clean-up?

Yes. Blue bags are provided to all clean-up participants, and any clean materials that are recyclable in your region should be placed in a blue bag for collection.

Additionally, any refundables found during the clean-up can be collected and returned to a depot for a monetary refund.

How do I dispose of tires, propane tanks, electronics and hazardous waste?

There are certain materials that cannot be picked up through regular waste collection.

Electronics: Visit for a listing of items that cannot be disposed in regular garbage and to find the nearest electronics recycling drop-off location.

Tires: Return up to four passenger vehicle tires to any tire retailer in Nova Scotia at no charge. Visit for details.

Leftover Paint: Visit to find a location where paint can be recycled at no charge.

Clean-up coordinators can contact their local waste region for information on how to properly dispose of hazardous waste.

What do we do if we find used condoms or needles?

Used condoms should only be picked up using tongs and while wearing gloves. Do not touch the condom directly with bare hands.

Needles and syringes should be left where they are by the team. Do not put needles and syringes in garbage bags, bins or anything other than an approved sharps container. Do not touch needles or syringes directly with bare hands and never attempt to cover, bend or break any needles or syringes.

For more information on the importance of proper sharps disposal please visit:

Make a note of the locations of any used needles and report their locations reported to your local waste region.

When should we do a litter clean-up?

Whenever is convenient for you! There is never a wrong time to clean up the litter along your adopted route. Many groups prefer to plan their clean-up during the early spring and then again in the fall. In the spring, garbage is visible – the snow has melted, but the grass and trees aren’t yet in bloom. This makes it really easy to find and grab the litter that surfaces after the long winter months.

What safe practices should we follow during our clean-up?

The health and safety of clean-up volunteers are the responsibility of the clean-up coordinator. Prior to a clean-up, coordinators should review the following safe work practices.

The Litter Handbook emailed to you at registration contains safety tips, information, and COVID-19 rules to help you and your team clean safely. The practices contained in our handbook are not meant to be an exhaustive listing. It is also recommended that teams carry their own liability insurance.

We also have developed these COVID-19 precautions!

Do you have any contests or prizes we could tell our volunteers about?

Litter Sweep Contest: Submit your pictures of the litter you find during your cleanup for a chance to win Cash. First place is $200, second is $100, and third is $50!

Data Card Contest: Every data card submission is automatically entered to win one of three prize packs valued at over $100 each.

Social Media: We hold multiple contests during our cleanup season on our social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Check us out!