Frequently Asked Questions
Why compost? What are the benefits of the green cart?
Waste diversion is a community issue so it takes a community to find a solution!
Based on waste audits at the Waste & Recycling Centre, more than half of what we throw into black carts is organic material and can go into the green carts. The introduction of the green cart program means the organics material can be diverted from landfill and help meet our waste diversion targets.
A green cart program will also prolong the life of our landfill, help reduce landfill greenhouse gases and leachate emissions which contribute to climate change. It also provides another option for residential food waste management.
What day and how often will my green cart be collected?
The green cart will be collected weekly from May to October and bi-weekly from November to April. Green cart collection will take place on a different day than your blue (recycling) and black (garbage) carts.
Your blue cart and black cart will continue to be collected on alternating weeks on your regularly scheduled day of the week.
If your Blue/Black collection day is… your Green collection day is…
Unsure of your collection schedule? Use the Waste Wizard
above to look up the schedule for your address or download the free smartphone app, Lethbridge Loop! You can set up reminders to be sent to you so you never miss another cart collection.
How do I make sure my green cart is collected?
Understanding how to put your green cart out and when to bring it in will help us run a smooth and efficient program. Follow these easy steps for proper cart placement.
- Fill it – Empty your kitchen pail into the green cart when the pail becomes full. Organic materials collected inside and outside your home should be placed loosely in your cart or bagged in paper bags. Remember not to overfill your cart. The lid must be able to close.
- Space it - Carts should be at least 1.5 metre from any objects like a fence, garage or car so the mechanical truck arms can safely grab them.
- Park it - Have your green cart out by 7 a.m. on your collection day and be sure the arrow on the lid is pointing into the street or alley.
- Take it - Be sure to return your green cart to your property after pickup. Each cart is marked with a barcode specific to your address.
Why are compostable and biodegradable plastics (including bags) not allowed? What can I use instead?
One of the benefits of being late to the curbside organics game is we've had the opportunity to talk extensively with other cities about their programs. What they've learned, what has worked and hasn't worked in their communities and what they wish they'd done differently.
We've taken this feedback to help inform and build a program that will be sustainable for Lethbridge. The one piece of advice we heard over and over again from these cities is "leave compostable and biodegradable plastics out!".
Compostable and biodegradable plastic products are not well regulated and the compostability of each brand varies. So one type or brand of bag breaks down differently to others, even though they're labelled as the same thing. These products can cause operational problems, may not break down properly during processing, and may contaminate the finished compost.
Paper bags and paper liners (e.g. newspaper, flyers, scrap paper) are allowed and can be used to line your kitchen pail. Larger yard waste bags can also be used to line your green cart. Click here to learn how to use newspaper to make a liner for your kitchen pail!
All plastics, including compostable and biodegradable plastic bags, are not accepted in the green cart.
How do I prepare my organics?
- Kitchen Pails - Each household will be provided a kitchen pail with their green cart. The kitchen pail can be used on your countertop, under your sink, or wherever is most convenient for you to collect your kitchen waste. Simply collect organic materials generated in your home in the kitchen pail and empty it into the green cart when full.
- Bagging materials - Organic materials can be placed loosely in your cart, in regular paper bags, or even in larger paper yard waste bags. Plastic bags, even those that say Compostable or Biodegradable, will not be accepted in this program. Remember not to overfill your green cart, the lid must close.
You can also use newspaper as a liner for your kitchen pail. Click here for a quick and easy way to make a newspaper liner that will help reduce odours and mess in your kitchen pail.
What is the weight limit of the green cart?
If you can easily roll the cart, it should be okay for collection. If the cart is too heavy, please remove materials from it until it is easy to roll and return the materials to the cart after it is emptied.
Can I opt out of the program?
There is no opt out of the curbside organics program.
Waste diversion is a community issue so it takes a community to find a solution! Like many other municipalities, to plan and operate the program efficiently, it needs to be universally implemented across the entire community.
Can I exchange my cart for another size?
No. The only size of green cart available in our program is 240 litres.
Can I save money if I downsize my black cart to the 240-litre size?
Yes! Residents who currently have a 360-litre black cart can downsize to a 240-litre cart after June 1, 2023. This saves around $1.71 on your monthly utility bill. This means your new green cart costs $3.29 instead of $5. Connect with 311 after June 1 to make the switch and learn more!
What does my monthly organics collection fee pay for?
Residential customers in single family homes are charged $5/month and customers in a multi-family residence (apartment/condo) who receive communal collection are charged $4/month on their utility bill to cover a portion of the green cart program expenses.
This charge will cover part of the following costs:
- Compost facility operations (maintenance, utilities, staffing)
- Curbside collection of green carts
- Compost marketing and sales
- Maintenance and lifecycle for collection trucks and carts
- Resources for public education and outreach
What if I already use a backyard composter?
We encourage you to continue your backyard composting. Waste diversion is a community issue so it takes a community to find a solution!
If you already have a backyard composter, feel free to keep using it and use your green cart for all the items you can't place in your composter such as meat, fish, shellfish, bones, dairy products, cooked food, cooking grease and oils, fast food packaging, paper plates, napkins, and soiled pizza boxes (just to name a few). In addition, backyard composters have a limited capacity and the processing time limits the amount of material that can be diverted.
Backyard composting can become dormant in winter months and may not allow the materials to decompose. The green cart program allows for year-round collection of organic material.
I have a garburator, why do I need a green cart?
The green cart is a more efficient way to dispose of organic waste than your garburator.
You're able to dispose of things like meat, bones, paper towel, and soiled food boxes. Much more than you can fit or should put down your sink and send to the Wastewater Treatment Facility for processing.
Plus, when you send oils, grease and fats down your sink, this can result in blockages or 'fatburgs' in the sewer system.
Garburators also use lots of water, which you'll see as a cost on your utility bill. Sending solid waste down your sink may also lead to potential plumbing problems down the road.
What happens to my organics once my green cart is collected?
- The collection trucks pick up the organics from your home and delivers it to the Organics Processing Facility at the Waste and Recycling Centre (landfill).
- Loads are inspected and mixed with yard waste and other materials such as woodchips and sawdust depending on the season and the final mixture. Large contaminates will be removed at this stage.
- The mixture is placed in to an exterior primary aerated static bed for 3-5 weeks. An aerated static bed uses airflow to keep the pile at optimum temperatures for the composting process. It is not disturbed during this process. All air exhausted to the environment is filtered through a bio-filter.
- The mixture is moved to a secondary aerated static bed for another 3-5 weeks.
- The composting process is now complete and the batch will be tested to CCME Grade A Compost standards.
- The compost is screened to remove contaminants and large pieces of wood. The large pieces of wood will be reintegrated into future mixtures at Step 2.
- Finished compost is utilized for landscaping, agriculture, and reclamation work. It will also be available to the public at the Waste and Recycling Center (landfill).
What will be done with the compost? Will it be available for residents?
The compost will be used in community gardens and parks, City projects, or sold for agricultural uses.
There will be opportunities for residents to collect compost for their own use, at no cost, in addition to being able to purchase it from the City.
More details will be released as we progress through the organics program.
I live in an apartment/condominium with communal/shared waste services. When will I see organic material disposal?
Apartments and condominiums that currently have communal/shared waste services will have organics collection implemented by the City on a one-by-one basis, with properties under 45 units starting to come online in fall of 2023.
Locations with over 45 units will begin their implementation of organics collection in the spring of 2024.
Which weeds and plants are not allowed in the green cart?
Diseased branches, noxious weeds, and elm wood are not accepted in the Curbside Organics Program. Instead, please bag, tie up and place these materials in your black cart. A list of provincially regulated weeds is available on the Government of Alberta website.
Branches larger than 5 centimeters in diameter and 1 meter in length are also not allowed in the green cart. These should be broken down into smaller pieces before placing in your green cart.
Why can’t I put cat litter and dog poop in my green cart?
We’re committed to an organics collection program that will produce top quality organic compost. Pet waste is not beneficial for compost production and inclusion can lead to production of lower quality compost.
How do I keep my cart clean to prevent odours and pests?
- If you can, store your green cart outside in a shady spot on your property.
- Use odour absorbers or neutralizers. Sprinkle baking soda, use a few drops of essential oils or spray air freshener into your organic waste.
- Freeze or refrigerate your organic waste and throw it into your green cart the night before collection day.
- Rinse your cart on your property with a hose and pour the water onto your grass, gravel, or garden. Do not pour dirty water onto the street, down the storm drain or onto other properties.
How do I prevent organics from freezing inside my cart during the cold months?
In the colder months, wet organic material can freeze to the inside of your green cart. Follow these tips to prevent material from sticking inside the cart:
- Put crumpled flyers, newspaper, paper bags or soiled pizza boxes in the bottom of your green cart before putting in any food or yard waste.
- Alternate between layers of food/yard waste and paper products.
- Store wet kitchen scraps in paper liners.
- Use a broom handle or a long stick to dislodge frozen material from the bottom or sides of your cart.
- Keep your organics in a paper bag in the freezer and deposit the bag into your cart before collection day.
- If possible, store your cart in sunlight.
My kitchen pail broke! Can the City give me a new one?
The City provided each household with one 8 litre kitchen pail at the start of the program. We do not provide replacements. Kitchen pails are available for purchase through most big-box stores.
How to I stop my cart from blowing away on a windy day?
- Make sure the lid is closed - An open lid will catch the wind and tip the cart more easily. It also means any loose material on the top of your cart could fly out.
- Don't over fill your cart - A propped up lid will catch the wind and more easily tip.
- Put lighter items at the bottom and heavier items on top - Prevent the lighter items from blowing out by putting them on the bottom of your cart.
- Angle the wheels into the curb at 45 degrees - If you angle your green cart at 45 degrees to the curb and the wind does catch it, there is more chance the wheels will roll into the curb and stop it from blowing away. This slight angle doesn't cause any difficulty for the trucks collecting your cart.
- If you can, keep your green cart in on extremely windy days - A half full cart is lighter and could tip more easily. It also means you likely have enough space to continue collecting your organics until the next pickup date. If your cart is not full, it might be safest to wait until your next pick up date.
- Report problems by calling 311 - We want to track areas that might be more susceptible to wind gusts and can send cleanup crews if a large litter event occurs.
- Put your cart out the morning of pickup rather than the night before and roll it back in as soon as possible - Leaving your cart on the street or in the alley for long periods of time will mean more chance of it getting knocked or blown over.
- Put your address on your cart - Each cart has a serial number and a RFID (radio waves transmit data) tag to identify that it belongs to your house. To make sure you keep your cart at your house, you can write your address on the white space provided on the cart. This will help with any windy day mix ups with your neighbours.
What if I don’t follow the rules?
If you happen to put something in your green cart that should have been left out, our Waste staff will leave you an "oops tag" that will give you information on what you did wrong. On the following pick-up date, your cart will be inspected again. If there is still material that is not acceptable, the cart will not be picked up that week.
Why doesn’t the lid close on my green cart and kitchen pail?
You may have noticed your lid doesn't fully close on your new green cart. Don’t worry! Carts and pails are delivered to us in stacks, much like you’d see red solo cups stacked. When you combine this with the cold weather, it just means they haven’t had time to settle in yet. Once the weather warms up, the lids will start relaxing and settle right in. If your lid is still not sitting pretty after a couple of weeks, connect with 311 to let them know.