All Lethbridge households have now had their first curbside recycling pickup and the results of the new program have been very positive. Residents have done an excellent job collecting clean, accepted materials in their blue carts, diverting material from the City's landfill.
To date, 196 tonnes of recyclables have been collected from the curbside program and 171 tonnes of that has already been processed at the City's Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The quality of the material has been very good but as with any recycling program, some contamination still occurs. Reporting from the MRF shows less than 8 per cent of the material collected to-date is not recyclable or has been contaminated and had to be disposed of.
"We are extremely pleased with how well our residents have done in collecting high quality recyclables in their blue carts," says Joel Sanchez, City of Lethbridge Waste and Recycling General Manager. "We know it's still early but we've seen fairly low contamination rates which is a great start to the program. That being said, there is always room for improvement and we'll continue to look for ways to get even better."
There have been significant changes in the recycling industry in recent years and many municipalities are reporting struggles in sustaining their current programs. By starting a recycling program at this time, Lethbridge is better positioned to mitigate these challenges and educate residents on the importance of collecting quality material.
"We know there are lots of rumours and concerns in the community about where our recycling will go," says Sanchez. "We have been working with a broker to secure markets for our materials and with the help of our residents, we have good quality material to sell. We're also committed to being very transparent with ongoing reporting to the community so they can be confident in the program."
Residents can be assured the hard work they put into being good recyclers is benefiting the community and the environment. On Wednesday, the first shipment was completed with over 40 tonnes of cardboard leaving Lethbridge to North American markets.
To provide feedback to residents on what goes in the blue cart and what needs to stay out, summer students have been checking carts for contamination. There have been more than 7000 carts checked over the last two weeks and just 301 were tagged as having too much contamination to be collected. These are excellent numbers, showing approximately 96 per cent of residents have been compliant with the ins and outs of the blue cart program.
The first week of recycling pick-ups saw a blue cart set out rate of just over 50 per cent, increasing to more than 65 per cent in week two. These rates are anticipated to go up as residents become more familiar with the program and their pick-up schedules.
For more information on the blue cart program visit curbside.lethbridge.ca.
For Public Inquiries:
Call 311 | Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Joel Sanchez, Waste and Recycling General Manager
City of Lethbridge