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Beyond the Headline: What is the City doing to reduce waste?

We have seen some questions in the public lately regarding the City's waste diversion efforts across both residential and business sectors. The following information helps explain the exciting progress happening in this important area.

Business Waste Diversion

The City of Lethbridge's Waste and Recycling Utility (WRU) is in a multi-year process of implementing a strategy to reduce waste and increase diversion from the landfill. This process started July 20, 2015, when City Council approved the Waste Diversion Policy. Across all sectors (residential, construction and demolition (C&D) and industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI), there is a combined target of  30% waste diversion by 2021 and 50% by 2030.

The purpose of this policy was to provide guidelines to encourage the efficient use of natural resources, with the guiding principle to treat the waste stream as a "Resource not Waste."

During the past five years, the strategy mandated an increase to bussinesse for tipping fees (fees paid to bring waste to the landfill) as an economic incentive to waste less. In addition, inspections and surcharges have been in place since March 1, 2020. Businesses unloading waste at the Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Centre are charged $50 per tonne on the entire load if the load contains a combination of more than 25% commercially recyclable materials.

The introduction of the increase in fees and surcharges at the landfill during the last five years has resulted in a decrease in the waste generated by both the ICI and C&D sectors. The ICI sector has seen a waste reduction of 8% compared to 2015 numbers and the C&D sector a reduction of 26%. 

Overall, the ICI and C&D sectors are only 3% away from the 2021 targets and they are moving towards the 2030 targets established in the Waste Diversion Policy.

It is important to make clear that the diversion achieved by the ICI and C&D sectors is possible due to the recycling investments and new programs approved by City Council - and fully funded by the ICI and C&D Sector - not city residents.

The funding for these programs comes from the tipping fees and surchanges mentioned above.

The next step for the ICI and C&D Strategy includes a mandatory organics program, equipment, and the facility to divert up to 10,000 tonnes of organics materials per year for the ICI sector. This facility is currently being built and will be operational by the fall of 2021. Similarly, to the previous programs, the facility and its operations will be fully funded by tipping fees from the ICI  and C&D sector only.

Learn more about business waste and recycling

Residential Waste Diversion Strategy

When it comes to the residential sector, the Waste Diversion Policy includes a Residential Waste Diversion Strategy. In 2019 the strategy included the implementation of the Curbside Recycling program for the residential sector. This program has been successfully implemented and since its implementation has increased the diversion by 15% compared to 2015 numbers.

The next step in the Residential Waste Diversion Strategy is the implementation of the Curbside Organics program, the program details have been presented to Council for their consideration as part of the proposed 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program. 

If Council approves this program, garbage and recycling collection will remain on an alternating bi-weekly schedule, and the new Organics program will include weekly collection during the summer and bi-weekly collection during the winter.

It is important to know that all utility funded initiatives in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) are  paid by residents as utility fees and do not include any property tax increase.

Lots of amazing work has been completed and is ongoing to support waste diversion in our community with strategies being implemented within all sectors. Anyone wanting to learn more can visit or by calling Lethbridge 311.