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Education and Events

Want to learn more about Waste and Recycling? Our education team is here to help you!

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Education and Events3/12/2021 7:42 PM
 Reduce Your Waste
Education and Events3/12/2021 7:43 PM
 Community Events
Education and Events3/12/2021 7:43 PM

MRF Webinar Q&A

Accordion Answer

The conveyer belt carries recycling to the sorting equipment and the sorting room.  We try and find the optimal speed based on the materials that have come in.  A faster speed actually helps because it keeps the materials in a thin manageable layer and prevents them from stacking up on the belt.   


​Fire safety is a top priority at the Waste & Recycling Centre.  Our buildings, including the MRF, are equipped with sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers throughout.  

Our location outside of the City of Lethbridge means we can't access City water.  As a result, we had a fire supply pound and pump house engineered.  The pump house is designed to draw water from the fire pond in case of a fire.  


From the opening in 2019 to May 14, 2021, 60 tonnes of beverage containers have been recovered at the MRF. 


​Styrofoam is an extremely difficult material to process and quite expensive to add to Municipal recycling.  We are monitoring it very closely however, there are no immediate plans to add Styrofoam to our recycling program.  

The best way to reduce the impact of Styrofoam is to try and avoid it and let stores know that you would prefer not to have it in packaging.  Look for companies that are making an effort to responsibly avoid or deal with their Styrofoam packaging, like London Drugs


​None.  We have successfully marketed all of our products to environmentally friendly North American markets. 

Only residuals, aka non-recyclable materials (e.g. Styrofoam, coffee cups, etc.)  end up in the landfill.  Residuals make up only 10% of the blue cart material received at the MRF.  


Since 2019 the MRF has processed about 25 tonnes per day.  Recently that increased to 30 tonnes per day with the addition of a new customer.  We are now at approximately 80% system capacity.   We still have room to take on additional customers who would like to join our process.  


​In the blue cart, recyclables should be larger than 2-inches by 2-inches.  Any smaller and they are hard to sort and as a result can end up as residuals. 

Unmarked plastic and plastic bags are not accepted in the blue cart program.  The plastics that are accepted are plastic containers with a recycling symbol and a # 1-7.  Scrap and unmarked plastic are not accepted. 

For a refresher on what's In and what's out of the blue cart check out:  


PVC (#3 plastic) is sorted into the # 3- 7 plastic mix and sent to our partners who do further sorting and recycling.  PVC is very difficult to recycle because unlike the majority of plastics #1-7 that is melted and turned into pellets, PVC when melted creates chlorine gas (aka extremely dangerous mustard gas).  As a result, for safety reasons PVC is difficult to manage.  


​No, we do not recycle vinyl siding.  

The MRF is not equipped to handle items like this.  We had a situation of vinyl siding that made it to the MRF and ended up injuring one of the employees.  The vinyl siding acted like a spring when it came through the sorting equipment and hit the employee in the head. 

Please remember putting things in your blue cart or the recycling depots that are not accepted can be very harmful.  If you are unsure how to dispose of something try our Waste Wizard Tool.


Pizza boxes with grease or food reside are not accepted in the blue cart.  Please remove any food residue and liners from the pizza box before placing them in your blue cart.  If the base of the box is greasy but the top is clean, place the top in your blue cart and the base in your black cart. 

If a greasy pizza box does end up in the recycling it is unlikely that the MRF staff will see it and remove it. So, it will end up as a contaminant or a lower grade product at our receivers.  The pulping process used to recycle boxes can remove many things but not grease and oil.  These lower grade products will have dark spots on them, and many manufactures want the recycled boxes to be pristine, not spotty and discolored.  

For more information on preparing your recycling visit:


​At the recycling depots, we collect glass, paper, metal, and plastic #1-7.  The plastic, paper, and metal are brought to the MRF where they are run through the sorting system.  This is because although residents presort the materials at the depots we see high levels of contamination in these bins so it requires further processing.  The recycling depots are for packaging and container recycling, not scrap metal, garden hoses, toys, laundry baskets, etc.  

The glass collected at the depots does not go through the MRF but it is stockpiled at the Waste and Recycling Centre until there is enough to be processed into a glass cullet (sand-like aggregate). 

In 2018 we processed stockpiled recycling depots glass into cullet.  It was blended with concrete to create the base layer of the Metis Trail pathway in Lethbridge. 

For more information on what can and can't go into the bins at the depots visit:


The residential blue cart recycling quality is good.  We typically see only 14% contamination, compared to many other municipalities that see anywhere from 30% to 50%. 

The majority of the 14% contamination is residual (that 10%, which goes to landfill because it is actual garbage) but a small amount of that contamination, unfortunately, blends into our products that we sell to markets (but we still meet the quality expectations of our receivers).  

Some of the contamination we see is gross, hazardous, and often dangerous.  Please remember when you put something in the blue cart that does not belong it can cause problems in the system, degrade the quality of the recyclables we produce, and you could be putting the MRF employee's safety at risk. 

It appears for the most part Lethbridge residents have learned and practice the ins and outs of blue cart recycling! Unfortunately, we do have some residents who have not yet learned or are maybe wish- cycling.  So, yes education is something we will continue to do to help those who need some additional clarification on the ins and outs.


The MRF, as well as the Waste and Recycling Center, operate as a utility.  Fees are collected from tipping rates and fees, our partners, and utilities.   We attempt to collect as much money through tipping fees and utility fees to cover our costs.


Glue, tape, labels, and staples can all be left on the cardboard boxes because the pulping process can easily remove these.  


​Plastic bags and film are not accepted in the blue cart.  For the film and bags that do end up in the recycling stream at the MRF, we do our best to sort them out.  We also sort out the film from the recycling depots.  The film and plastic bags are then sent to one of our partners who will sort it further and recycle it into new plastic bags or other plastic items.  

Plastic bags and film are very difficult and expensive to recycle, try reducing your single-use plastic consumptions with reusable items. 


In 2020, about 6599 tonnes of material were diverted from the landfill.  Since the MRF opened in 2019 we have collected 12,145,955 kg of recyclable materials.  Now that the MRF is 2 years old and established, we are expecting that number to increase as we add more customers to the facility. 


Yes, we are a regional facility.  The Waste and Recycling Centre and Landfill is owned by the City of Lethbridge, but we've had a long tradition of receiving regional materials from other communities.  Our customers at the MRF include Coalhurst, Taber, and recently Medicine Hat.


For more information

Report a problem like missed collection or mess in lane
Phone: 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge)
Online: Service request options