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Volume of material speaks volumes to benefit of curbside recycling

​Since the curbside recycling program began, the City has seen a 96% increase in the amount of recyclable material collected compared to that seen at the recycling stations for the same time period last year. This shows the convenience of blue cart collection is helping more residents recycle and saving this material from the landfill.

Of the 562,470 kg of recycling material collected so far through the curbside recycling program, 90 per cent is good quality, marketable material. A contamination rate of 10 per cent for a newly implemented program is very positive and speaks to the time and effort residents have put into recycling well and recycle often.

"We are extremely pleased with the results so far," says Joel Sanchez, City of Lethbridge Waste and Recycling General Manger. "Our residents have really paid attention to the ins and outs of the program and have been keen recyclers. The number one goal of this program is to save more material from hitting our landfill. We knew we could do better and the measurements we have in place, prove that curbside recycling is making a difference in our community."

The City's new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) reports 82 per cent of the collected material has been fibers which includes both cardboard and paper, 4 per cent plastics, 2 per cent metals, 2 per cent other recyclable material and 10 per cent contamination. So far 394 tonnes of fiber have been shipped to North American markets and 19 tonnes of plastic have went to Eastern Canada.

The quality of plastic materials in the blue carts is also much better than that collected at the recycling stations making it more marketable. Increasing the quality and quantity of recyclables both contribute to the success and sustainability of the program. Residents are reminded to also make sure that they are only putting acceptable plastics in the large depot containers.

On average, 60 per cent of blue carts are put out on each pick-up day. Summer staff have also been doing cart checks in various neighbourhoods each week to provide direct feedback to residents. From June 6-19, 8704 carts where checked and 383 were not collected and tagged to let the resident know what they need to leave out for next time. This means that only 4.5 per cent of carts checked were contaminated which further reinforces that the clear majority of residents are only putting clean, accepted material in their blue carts.

Lethbridge is doing a great job learning the ins and outs of curbside recycling and residents have been seeking out information regarding the program in many different ways. Over the last two months, the curbside recycling website, has seen 49,318 unique visits, 3643 people have signed up for the City's curbside recycling e-newsletter and nearly 6,000 people have used the online Waste Wizard tool to look up if certain items are recyclable. The City's new 311 service has also been a great resource for residents answering more than 800 calls related to blue carts.

While the majority of material collected is good quality, there have still been incidents of contamination at the MRF that have been disheartening and stressful to workers.  

"As excited as we are about the good things happening at the MRF, we've seen some items end up there that are very clearly not recycling and we want to remind residents that there is a person on the other end of that action," says Sanchez. "You might think that it won't hurt to put it in your blue cart but it really is detrimental to the program and more importantly, dangerous to the people."

Never put hazardous items like old propane tanks, CO2 cartridges, helium tanks or diapers, soiled bed sheets and medical waste in your blue cart. Large items like barrels, vinyl siding and scrap metal and construction materials can also injure workers and damage machinery. For a full list of the ins and out of the curbside recycling program visit

For public inquiries contact: 

Media Contact:
Joel Sanchez, General Manager – Waste and Recycling Services
City of Lethbridge