AHOI News Releases

Successful Start to

Plastic Waste Reduction in Gros Morne Region

Partners collect over 2 metric tons of garbage and clean nearly 12 km of coastline



Norris Point, NL, October 18, 2021 - Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) and its partners, Parks Canada (PC) and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association (GMCA) have collected nearly 2200 lbs of waste and cleaned nearly 12,000 m of coastline in the Gros Morne region since beginning their partnership three months ago.


The partnership, “Becoming Plastic Waste Free in Gros Morne” encourages better practices and behaviors by the public, improves education and awareness of plastic waste issues, enhances the capacity to clean and audit beaches, and provides a better understanding of plastic pollution found along coastal areas of the region. 


AHOI’s Plastic Program Data Coordinators, Emily Walsh and Aaron Hingston – also known as the “AHOI Waste Busters” – were able to put a much larger dent in the amount of waste littering the region.


“We’ve collected nearly triple the amount of weight and covered almost five times the distance that we did last year,” said Hingston. “We have found everything from microplastics to a goose decoy to couch cushions.”


In three months, Walsh and Hingston conducted 20 quadrant samples in Gros Morne National Park and larger beach cleanups in each of the seven communities adjacent to the park. They had help from staff at AHOI, GMCA and Parks Canada, along with more than 150 community volunteers.


“To put it into perspective, the weight of waste we collected is equivalent to two moose, and the amount of rope collected is enough to stretch the length of 411 humpback whales,” added Walsh.


“It’s astonishing to see first-hand the amount of waste littering our coastlines,” said GMCA’s Executive Director, Colleen Kennedy, who has participated in the community beach cleanups. “To know this waste is turning up in areas that are protected or surrounded by otherwise pristine landscapes, underscores the importance of our partnership and the work we are doing.”


Nearly all the waste found along shores in the region comes from within the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To help reduce the amount of plastic that could end up on the landscape, the partners are developing initiatives to reduce the use of single-use plastics, and divert those used into the appropriate waste streams.


AHOI, Parks Canada and GMCA brought the Blue W program to the Gros Morne region, whereby visitors can refill their water bottles with safe drinking water for free, eliminating the need to buy single-use bottles. To date, the partners identified and registered six locations in the national park and seven throughout the communities. The partners are also working on new signage for waste and recycling bins in the region.


“Parks Canada protects Canada’s natural and cultural treasures and is proud to work with partners and nearby communities to achieve its goals. Gros Morne National Park is a special place, and its protection is possible with the help of the passion of groups such as the Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association. We are pleased with the results this partnership yielded in year one and look forward to continuing to work together to address waste management issues in the region,” said Ron Hallman, the President & Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada.


While beach cleanups and audits have wrapped up for the season, the partners will continue working together to develop and introduce initiatives that bring the region closer to becoming plastic-waste free.


For more information, please contact:


Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI


(709) 899-2468


Greg Knott, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Parks Canada

(709) 458-8591


Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association

(709) 458-8834



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Photo: AHOI, Parks Canada, and Gros Morne Cooperating Association staff at the beach in Rocky Harbour, NL.

Gros Morne Businesses Lead 

the Way to a Plastic-Free Future

As the region begins to welcome visitors, some businesses are saying good-bye

to single-use plastics used at their operations.



Norris Point, NL, July 27 2021 – Businesses in the Gros Morne Region are turning the tide on plastic pollution and the impact it has on their coastal communities. Through a new pilot project created by Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) and funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, nearly a dozen businesses that traditionally relied on disposable single-use plastic items for their food services and experiences, have switched to metal, glass, and biodegradable alternatives. This move will have a huge impact as food service is the primary source of single-use plastics that wash up on beaches in the Gros Morne region, and plays a significant role in accommodating roughly 250,000 people that visit in a typical tourism season. 


Restaurants offering take-out traditionally rely heavily on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, containers, bags, styrofoam, and coffee paraphernalia. The AHOI pilot project encourages businesses to offer a ‘Reuse-Refill’ option; allowing customers to bring their own container to be filled with purchased food and beverages or providing customers with reusable containers that they can return once they are finished with them. When reusables and refillables are not feasible, companies are encouraged to use disposable containers that are truly backyard compostable; will rot without harming the environment. 


Gros Morne Outdoor Company is one of three tourism companies embracing the ‘Reuse’ option by packing lunches in metal containers for their picnics, hiking and camping trips. Customers carry their food in reusable containers and return them to the business once they return from their excursion. 


“It always feels good when you can lessen the impact on the environment, especially when you own an adventure experience company that showcases the pristine natural experiences Gros Morne National Park has to offer. Reducing our plastics will have a positive effect on our business, community, and environment and is essential as the public becomes more aware of the connections between their actions when traveling and what they support.” Explains Natalie and Steve Wheeler, owners of the Gros Morne Outdoor Company. 


Some businesses are implementing a hybrid model in their operations. Gros Morne Farm and Market is testing out some backyard compostable containers, and has already opted for glass mason jars that they refill for weekly veggie subscription boxes. Like the milkman, they deliver, pick up, sterilize, and refill the containers. Not only is it a closed-loop circular system; it also provides fresh, plastic-free produce. 


Shallow Bay Motel is one of 10 companies that switched from plastic to 100% compostable take-out containers, through the project. “It's important for us to make the change, to help our area grow in the right way and make it a sustainable place for the future. Also, to set a great example for our kids and grandkids; we always want to try to leave the world a better place for them,” says Steven House at Shallow Bay Motel. “We are very happy to be part of this great thing AHOI is doing and look forward to keeping this partnership and making Gros Morne a sustainable area now and in the future.” 


With Canada planning to issue proposed regulations banning or restricting certain single-use plastics this fall, AHOI aims to make this transition away from plastics simple and more convenient at the local level. It also sends the message that it is possible to transition away from unnecessary plastics, even in rural communities. 


“Together, we are putting the Gros Morne region ahead of zero plastic waste targets nationally, and globally. Connecting local businesses with real alternatives to plastic shows tangible success from this pilot project! Our committed efforts are bringing people together with sustainable and local values, while making it easy for visitors to mark their destination with a sustainable trip. The changes local businesses are making sets an example for and preparing our region to become a more circular economy!” says Jackie Bauman, Senior Plastics Program Coordinator for AHOI.


The project launched in time for the tourist season and is ahead of Canada finalizing its regulations on a single-use plastics ban.




For more information, please contact:

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI


Jackie Bauman, Senior Plastics Program Coordinator, AHOI


(705) 827-1975




AHOI is one of 14 organizations across Canada to receive funding from ECCC through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative. This project looks at the life cycle of plastic from the point it is made to the moment we find it discarded. Studies show that approximately 80% of plastic waste that ends up in our ocean comes from land-based sources. 


In the Gros Morne Region, most business is driven by tourism, with roughly 250,000 people visiting the national park in a typical year. AHOI works closely with businesses, town councils, other NGOs, and community members to build capacity at the community level, to help them transition away from single-use plastics and make the Gros Morne Region a leader in becoming a more circular economy.


The following businesses and municipalities have signed up for the pilot project:


Gros Morne Adventures

Gros Morne Farm and Market

Gros Morne Outdoor Company

Old Cottage Hospital

Old Store Café

Out East Adventures

The Merchant Warehouse Retro Café and Wine Bar

The Old Loft

Shallow Bay Motel

Sugar Hill Inn

Taste of Gros Morne

Town of Norris Point


Many products claim to be "compostable” or “biodegradable" because they are made with plant-based bioplastics, known as PLA. Take-out containers lined with PLA are only compostable in an industrial composter. Since the region does not have an industrial composter, AHOI searched for compostable take-out containers that are backyard compostable. The most suitable products to date have come from Eco2Bureau based out of Quebec, CA.



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Photo: Tourism company owners with new

metal containers.

(L-R):  Natalie and Liam Wheeler from Gros Morne Outdoor Company, Ian Stone from Taste of Gros Morne Kristen Hickey from Gros Morne Adventures. 

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Farm and Market photo (1).png

Photo: Shallow Bay Motel's reuseable and 100% backyard compostable containers.

Photo: Gros Morne Farm and Market's Refillable containers.


New Partnership a Huge Step Towards

Reducing Plastic Footprint in Gros Morne Region





Norris Point, NL, May 25, 2021 - Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Parks Canada – Gros Morne National Park and the Gros Morne Cooperating Association (GMCA), to move the region towards zero plastic waste. The 3-year agreement, “Becoming Plastic Waste Free in Gros Morne” aims to lessen the impact of plastic waste in the region, in and around the national park and in adjacent communities.


“This is the first time AHOI has partnered with a national park and its cooperating association. We’re very excited to tackle plastic pollution, while also developing strategies to move with the region to create a more circular economy! We want to take a multifaceted approach to this complex problem; and this partnership starts that process. Collectively, we will develop ways to help Gros Morne become more sustainable and show other remote areas across Canada what's possible when you work together!”, says Rebecca Brushett, Executive Director for AHOI.


The partnership involves education and outreach initiatives, beach cleanups and audit research, and a regional circular economy strategy.


“Parks Canada places are gateways to discovering nature. In Gros Morne National Park, we are excited to work with partners and nearby communities to protect and present Canada’s natural treasures. This new partnership with Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative and the Gros Morne Cooperating Association is an opportunity to work with the broader region to address waste management issues, clean up some of Gros Morne’s coastal areas, and educate the public on reducing the use of plastics,” explains Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains.


The partnership also promotes sustainable tourism and focuses on reducing waste associated with the tourism industry, to ensure the long-term benefits to the region.


“Gros Morne Cooperating Association is pleased to work with these partners to reduce single-use plastics in our region. Living in a region with a protected natural area encourages us as citizens to do our part in looking after our environment and demonstrating it in our behavior. Our association, communities and Parks Canada are working together to ensure we move forward sustainably for the protection of this place we are proud to call home.” remarks Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director for GMCA.


The partners are kicking off their partnership with a community beach cleanup and audit during the popular Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, which attracts locals and tourists alike. The cleanup will take place at Wild Cove Beach in Norris Point, NL from 10am-12pm on Saturday, May 29, 2021, and is registered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.


Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative is a registered non-profit organization formed in 2019, to raise awareness of our changing oceans, and facilitate actions to protect them and communities that depend on them most. AHOI works with local businesses, universities, government agencies and others, to create programs that support the health of our oceans, while working towards a more resilient and sustainable blue economy. To date, AHOI has collected more than 3,000 pounds of plastic waste.


The partnership agreement focuses on the Gros Morne region in and around the national park, and adjacent communities. The area encompasses a national park – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and 8 enclave communities with a combined population of approximately 3000 people. The region hosts roughly 250,000 visitors in a typical tourism season – a more than 8 thousand percent increase in people, from May to September.



For more information, please contact:


Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI


(709) 899-2468


Greg Knott, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Parks Canada

(709) 458-8591


Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association

(709) 458-8834




AHOI-GMCA-PCA_Partnership Launch Photo_M

Photo (L-R): Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director, GMCA;

Parka; Rebecca Brushett, Executive Director, AHOI.

Wild Cove beach,

Norris Point, NL.