With a city-wide curbside recycling program coming in the spring of 2019, major enhancements are underway within the City's waste and recycling department to support this new initiative.
"Curbside recycling is something the community has been waiting for and is excited about," says Mayor Chris Spearman. "I'm proud that we are taking this positive step towards becoming a more environmentally conscious community."
Phase 1 of the curbside recycling began in April 2018, offering service to a group of approximately 900 homes and several multi-family complexes. The year-long program has helped staff test different delivery methods and collect feedback from residents ahead of city-wide implementation.
To-date, phase 1 residents have helped divert 48,308 kg of recyclable material from the landfill. The majority of this material, 68 per cent, has been fibers (paper and cardboard) followed by 11 per cent plastics, 3 per cent metals and 2 per cent other material. Phase 1 has seen about 15 per cent contamination (dirty or unaccepted material).
"The residents participating in phase 1 have been such an important part of developing our program," says Joel Sanchez, General Manager for the City of Lethbridge Waste and Recycling department. "We've had time to collect good feedback and develop processes and education that will help ensure a successful and sustainable program for Lethbridge."
In the first six months of the program, 69 per cent of phase 1 residents were putting their blue cart out on a regular basis and survey results show that 94 per cent have used the program in some capacity. Since last spring, the City has held six focus groups with residents of phase 1, knocked on 854 doors to talk with phase 1 participants in-person and received survey responses from 216 people.
Simultaneous to phase 1 has been the construction of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that will sort and process the recycled materials collected from the city-wide curbside recycling program. Final concrete work was recently completed on the facility located at the Waste and Recycling Centre (landfill). Over the next several weeks, construction crews will continue to close in the building and complete the inside finishing work prior to equipment installation.
In addition to the MRF, a new educational building has also been added at the Waste and Recycling Centre. This building itself is recycled as it was previously the temporary location of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre during renovations to the permanent facility. The deck surrounding the building is also made of recycled material. The City's current recycling stations collect plastics that are purchased by a Southern Alberta company to create decking material.
"We're excited to be adding this new feature to our waste and recycling department," says Sanchez. "Education is key to helping reduce our environmental impact. It's doubly important that we walk-the-walk and make this facility an example of how we can be more environmentally responsibility."
Anticipated to open in spring of 2019, the education building will provide local students with environmental education. Working in partnership with the University of Lethbridge, a virtual tour of the MRF will also be available in this facility as it will not be accessible by the public once it becomes operational.
A launch of public education around the upcoming recycling program is anticipated early in the New Year. Residents can expect their blue carts to arrive in the spring of 2019. For more information on the curbside recycling project visit: www.lethbridge.ca/CurbsideRecycling.
Joel Sanchez, General Manager, Waste and Recycling
City of Lethbridge