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Mandatory Recycling and Organics Frequently Asked Questions

Lethbridge is home to more than 2,900 businesses, institutions, and private organizations. Whether large, small, family-owned, part of a national corporation, for-profit, or a charitable organization, these establishments all fall under the new Mandatory Recycling and Mandatory Organics provisions within the City of Lethbridge’s Waste Bylaw 6146.

Mandatory Recycling and Organics is a requirement that the recyclable/organic materials generated by staff, contractors, and visitors of Lethbridge businesses and organizations be diverted from landfill.

Below are the frequently asked questions for Mandatory Recycling and Organics. If you have additional questions, please contact 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge). 

Historically waste audits demonstrated that the non-residential sectors in Lethbridge produce around 2/3 of all the waste generated in our City. The City Waste Diversion Policy approved by the Council in 2018 aims to divert 50% of the waste generated in Lethbridge by 2030. Without the support of businesses diverting their waste, the City will not be able to achieve its goals.

Every business and organization operating in Lethbridge is included in the program and their participation is crucial for the achievement of the waste diversion targets. From small stores Downtown to big factories. Even food trucks while operating in Lethbridge need to follow the program’s requirements.

There are four requirements of the program:

  1. Provide adequate containers for recyclables and organics to all employees, visitors, and contractors;
  2. Arrange removal of Recyclables/Organics by a waste hauler, or self-haul to an appropriate facility;
  3. Conduct training for all employees; and
  4. Report compliance online annually.

Yes, most places have some of these materials. Common examples of recyclables that most businesses or organizations generate are paper, cardboard, hard plastics and beverage containers. Food scraps/leftovers and wet paper towels from hand wash stations/washrooms are organic waste usually generated by non-residential premises. There are many options for diverting those materials from the garbage. If the generation is very small, you can self-haul those materials. You comply with the requirements as long as organics and recyclables are being diverted from the landfill. The program offers you flexibility.

Take your waste diversion practices from home and apply them at work! The program expectation is that, at minimum, materials accepted in the blue and green residential carts be diverted from the business and organizations’ garbage. It includes, for example, paper, cardboard, hard plastic and metal that should be recycled and food scraps, coffee grounds and filters and wet or food-soiled paper towels that need to go to the organic bin. Some businesses and organizations may be able to recycle/compost other materials, like plastic film, wood waste, and scrap metal for example. It’s highly desirable, but it’s not a program requirement. If you are in doubt about a specific product, check the Waste Wizard at

You may have additional costs for those services depending on your needs and how you choose to address this requirement. The program offers flexibility and allows opportunities to decrease your garbage bin collections' frequency and/or size. It can even create savings opportunities. Check your options with haulers. You can even have different haulers for different services (e.g. organics, recycling, garbage). A list of haulers is maintained by Environment Lethbridge and can be found here.

Staff training is a requirement of the program, but it shouldn’t be complicated or expensive. You can use the training method that is more convenient for you. For new employees, you can include this training in their onboarding training. Additionally, the City provides access to the training that we use for our staff at no cost on our website.

As a non-residential customer, you have the flexibility to choose your hauler for each of the services: garbage, recycling, and organics. It can be the same hauler for all 3 services or different ones. The choice is yours. Thus, the City is not automatically providing recycling and/or organic bins for businesses and/or organizations. You can find a list of haulers and the services that they provide on the Environment Lethbridge website.

On our Commercial Waste & Recycling webpage, you can find several tools to help you to implement your business waste diversion program including a guide with detailed information, resources to train your staff, a link to find haulers that operate in the City and the services that they provide, and a sign maker that allow you to make customized signs for your bins. If you need more help, call 311 and a Waste Diversion Specialist will be glad to help you to tackle your waste diversion issues.

The first annual report is due on January 31st, 2024. At that time go to and follow the prompts to fill out the report. The information is high-level, and we won’t ask for any quantitative information. The goal of this report is to provide a convenient way for businesses to show to the City that they are complying with the regulations.

For more information, view our ReTRAC Connect Self Reporting Guide.

No, the program only requires you to offer recycling and organics bins for your staff, visitors and contractors, but not for your clients or customers. If you want to go that extra mile and provide organic and recycling bins also for your clients/customers, kudos to you, but it’s not a requirement at this time.

There are quite a few companies that are operating in Lethbridge and offering recycling and organics collection. Environment Lethbridge has a Find a Waste Hauler tool on their website. There you can see a list of all haulers that are servicing Lethbridge and what kind of waste they haul (i.e., organics, recycling, garbage).

If your garbage is managed by your landlord/condo administrator, it is possible that they provide you with options to properly dispose of your recyclables/organics. Contact them to obtain more information. Nevertheless, you are still responsible for the proper separation of those materials inside your business or organization. You still need to make sure to have recycling and organics bins with proper signs and training available for your staff at your workplace. You also need to fill out your self-compliance report annually by January 31st each year.

One approach adopted by the Waste Diversion Strategy to achieve the targets is to surcharge materials for which recycling is readily available. This means that if a load arrives in the landfill is selected for inspection and is found that 25% of the load contains designated recyclables or organic materials, the load is surcharged $50/tonne.

“Designated materials” include cardboard & paper, recyclable wood, asphalt shingles, scrap metal, drywall, concrete, brick & masonry block, asphalt pavement and organics (starting in September 2023). The surcharge is applied to the hauler that brings the load to the landfill and not directly to the businesses. Haulers may pass on those costs to their clients.

The plan focused on diverting waste from the non-residential sectors has been around for a long time. The first time that the issue was raised was in 2008 when a Waste Prevention Master Plan revealed that those sectors represented over 80% of the waste generated in Lethbridge. Since then, opportunities were presented to the Council, and engagement sessions were held with the non-residential community. In 2015 the City approved the Waste Diversion Strategy and in 2019 Mandatory Recycling started to be implemented, but was shortly after suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has re-launched Mandatory Recycling and introduced Mandatory Organics as previously planned in the Waste Diversion Strategy to achieve the waste diversion target for 2030.

No, enforcement will be a last resort. Our focus is on education and helping you understand how to successfully participate in the mandatory recycling and organics program.

Mandatory Organics and Recycling are already in effect, although you have time to adapt. Organics surcharges at the landfill will start in September 2023 and the first annual report on ReTRAC is due on January 31st, 2024.

There are no exemptions issued to the program at this time. The bylaw provides for specific situations where an exception could be issued specific situations. Most businesses and organizations would not meet the criteria for exemption.

Yes, the City of Lethbridge, like any other organization, is following all of the program’s requirements.

Yes, we have recently finished the Organic Processing Facility at the WRC, which will transform the organic waste received into quality compost. The Material Recovery Facility has been operating for a few years now. There are other facilities as well that can assist businesses and organizations with processing for organics and recycling.

No. Those regulations only affect business in the City of Lethbridge. But, if your hauler hauls your waste to the Lethbridge landfill, it may be surcharged if more than 25% of the load is composed of designated materials.

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