Skip to main content Skip to footer


Recycling and Blue Carts

By being good recyclers, we can keep materials out of our landfill. Learn what can go in your blue cart, what needs to be recycled in other places and what should go in your black cart. 

Blue Cart

Before putting anything in your blue cart, learn the ins and outs of the program and make sure all recyclables are clean of food and residue. This will ensure we are collecting high-quality materials that will be recycled into new products.

What’s In?

Hard plastic containers, jugs and bottles labelled with recycling symbols 1-7 are accepted. Please rinse them of any residue before putting them in your blue cart. Lids and labels can stay on.

  • Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream and similar containers
  • Clamshell containers often used in packaging baking goods
  • Peanut butter jars
  • Ice cream buckets
  • Plastic coffee containers
  • Laundry soap jugs
  • Dish soap bottles
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Lotion bottles (pump removed)

Paper and cardboard are accepted in your blue cart. Please ensure it is clean and dry. Boxes don't need to be flattened but can be if you need space in your bin. Avoid stacking things inside each other if possible and place them loosely in your bin.

  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Computer paper
  • Writing paper
  • Envelopes (remove plastic window)
  • Phonebooks
  • Shoe boxes
  • Cardboard food boxes
  • Clean pizza boxes (no grease or cheese)
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Egg cartons (cardboard, not Styrofoam)
  • Packing boxes
  • Tissue boxes (remove plastic film)

Metal cans and foil can be placed in your blue cart. There is no need to remove labels. Aluminum drink cans can be returned to the bottle depot for a refund.

  • Soup cans
  • Canned vegetables
  • Tuna cans
  • Canned sauces
  • Clean foil
  • Clean tin pie plates
  • Clean tin, take-out food containers

Leaving beverage containers in your blue cart on a regular basis may encourage people to root through your recyclables. This could lead to your cart of material becoming litter in your neighbourhood. To avoid this, we encourage you to return your beverage containers to the depot for a refund. However, these items are accepted in the blue cart if that’s more convenient.

  • Beverage cans
  • Plastic beverage bottles
  • Juice cartons
  • Juice pouches
  • Milk jugs
  • Milk cartons

What’s Out?

Glass needs to be collected separately for several reasons, these include: possible equipment damage, staff safety & the contamination of other materials (reducing their value). Many glass containers can be returned to the bottle depot for a refund. All other glass will continue to be accepted at the recycling stations.

  • Pasta sauce jars
  • Oil bottles
  • Jam jars
  • Pickle jars
  • Wine bottles
  • Beer bottles
  • Soda bottles

These can get tangled in the sorting equipment and cause damage to the machinery. Plastic bags can be recycled at our recycling stations and are accepted at some retailers. You can reduce your use of plastic bags by bringing reusable bags with you and reusing plastic bags for things like garbage or pet waste.

  • ​Bags 
  • Food wrap
  • Bubble wrap
  • ​Rope
  • Twine
  • String
  • Cords

Bagged material will not be accepted in blue carts. Please place all garbage in your black cart for pick-up. All accepted recyclable material must be placed loosely in the blue cart.

Paper drink cups may seem like something we can easily recycle but they often have a wax or plastic coating on the inside. This keeps the drink warm and prevents the cardboard from becoming soggy, but it also makes the cup non-recyclable.

  • Paper coffee cups
  • Paper tea cups
  • ​Paper soda cups

Items made from more than one type of material should not be put in your blue cart. They should be put in the black cart instead.

  • Deodorant stick
  • Toothpaste tube
  • Frozen juice containers
  • Hardcover Books
  • Single-serve coffee packages
  • Gift wrap / tissue paper
  • Greeting cards

Yard waste should not go in your blue cart. It can be taken to the City yard waste sites located at the three Recycling Drop-off depots or placed in your green cart. This material is composed and used in City parks. If you have a backyard composter, you can continue using it to compost your yard waste.

  • No grass clippings​
  • No leaves
  • ​No branches
  • No garden clippings

Styrofoam (polystyrene) is not recyclable in Lethbridge – even if it has a recycling symbol. Styrofoam is light in weight and bulky in volume, therefore the cost and environmental impact of transport outweighs the benefits of recycling. Please place it in your black cart.

  • Styrofoam cups
  • Styrofoam take-out containers
  • Styrofoam packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam molded packing material

Shredded paper is hard to sort when mixed loosely with other materials. To recycle shredded paper, bag it in a clear bag and take it to one of the City's recycling stations or place unbagged into your green cart.

Putting building materials in your blue cart can be very dangerous. Construction materials should be dropped off at the Waste and Recycling Centre (landfill).

  • ​Nails
  • Screws
  • Drywall
  • Concrete
  • ​Wood
  • Scrap metal
  • Bricks
  • Tiles
  • Carpet

Anything with a hazardous material symbol should be disposed of at the Waste and Recycling Centre (landfill). Including these items in your blue cart can be extremely dangerous to workers.

  • Paint
  • Propane tanks
  • Car batteries
  • Oil 
  • ​Needles and other sharps (knives, blades, etc.)
  • Gardening chemicals
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Aerosol cans
  • Ammunition

Electronics can be dropped off for recycling at the Waste and Recycling Centre (landfill).

  • Computers
  • Keyboards
  • Printers
  • Televisions
  • Gaming systems
  • Phones
  • VCR/DVD players

Waste Wizard

Still not sure what's in or out? Ask the Waste Wizard! Use the Waste Wizard to:

  • Search by item name to learn if it can be recycled or not and where to put it.
  • Get up-to-date collection schedules and information.
  • Set collection reminder notifications.


2024 Residential blue cart (recycling) fees

Cart Size

Fee per day

Fee per 30 days

360 Litre / 240 Litre Blue Cart



Additional Blue Cart



For the full list of fees, visit Residential Waste Utility Rates.

Drop-off Depots (Recycling Stations)

For more information about the City’s Drop-off Depots, click here.

  • West Side Recycling Station: 296 Bridge Dr. W
    • Located at the top of Bridge Dr. W. hill, right before the junction of Bridge Dr. W. and University Drive (look for the big green flag!)​
  • ​North Side Recycling Station: 2200 Stafford Dr. N
    • Located at the junction of Stafford Drive North and Scenic Drive North.
  • South Side Recycling Station: 2665 28 Ave. S
    • Located on 28th Ave S between the Lethbridge Soccer Complex and Lethbridge Judo Club. 

All three recycling stations are open 24 hours a day, so you can conveniently recycle both day and night.​

  • Cardboard: Clean and flattened cardboard and boxboard (ex. cereal boxes, moving boxes).
  • Paper: Clean paper (ex. newspaper, office and household paper, magazines).
  • Bagged Shredded Paper: Clean shredded paper bagged in a clear plastic bag (ex. confidential documents).
  • Metal: Clean tin and aluminum cans (ex. soup cans, beverage containers).
  • Glass: clean glass (ex. bottles and jars).
  • Bagged Plastic Bags: Clean bagged plastic bags (see below) (ex. grocery bags).
  • Plastics: Clean plastics with a number 1 through 7 recycling symbol (see below).

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding how to put your blue cart out and when to bring it in helps us run a smooth and efficient program. Follow these easy steps for proper cart placement.

  • Fill it– Recyclable materials should be placed loosely in your cart and not bagged. Remember not to overfill your cart. The lid must be able to close.
  • Space it– Bins should be at least 1.5 metres from any objects like a fence, garage or car so the mechanical truck arms can safely grab them.
  • Park it– Have your recycling out by 7 am 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 blue cart to your property after pickup. Each cart is marked with a barcode specific to your address.

Blue carts and black carts are collected on alternating weeks. Use the Waste Wizard or the Lethbridge Loop app to check the collection schedule for your address and set collection reminders.

  • Keep it clean – Before anything goes in your blue cart, please make sure it is clean of food and residue. A quick rinse or a cycle through your dishwasher for greasy or sticky items should do the trick. Pizza boxes should be clean of any grease or food and things like peanut butter and oil containers will need to be cleaned with soap and water to remove residue.
  • Labels and lids – No need to waste time taking off labels from cans and plastic jugs. These can easily go through the recycling process so feel free to leave them on. Likewise, lids are also OK to remain on containers if they are made of the same material.
  • Size – Any material smaller than the palm of your hand or about the size of your fist, is typically too small to make it through the sorting process. These items should be placed in your black cart instead. 

It might feel like there are a lot of rules, but a big part of a successful blue cart program is quality control. We need to make sure we’re collecting clean, high-quality materials that will have the most environmental benefit, can be safely processed and that have value in the marketplace. Weighing these factors and talking with other communities, we’ve created the above list of what’s in and what’s out so we can make a positive impact with our program.

Glass needs to be collected separately for several reasons, these include possible equipment damage, staff safety & the contamination of other materials (reducing their value). Many glass containers can be returned to the bottle depot for a refund. This includes wine and beer bottles. All other glass will continue to be accepted at the recycling stations. 

When planning the curbside program, we asked other communities and industry experts if we should include glass and were told many times that it would not be recommended. The trend across North America is to remove glass from curbside collection.

Yes. We ask that residents make sure their materials are free of any food and residue before putting them in their blue cart. A quick rinse or a cycle through the dishwasher for greasy or sticky items should do the trick. A big factor in the success of our program lies in the collection of clean, high-quality products that have value in the marketplace. By cleaning materials, before they go in the blue cart, we can prevent contamination.

Blue Cart recyclables including paper, cardboard, metal cans, foil and plastics #1-7 are sent to the City's Materials Recycling Facility to be sorted out and sent across North America to be turned into new products.

Items such as tires, paint and electronics are NOT accepted in the blue carts. However, they are accepted and are collected through programs administered by the Alberta Recycling Management Authority. These materials can be brought to the Waste and Recycling Centre (Landfill) for disposal

Yes. Blue carts are available in two sizes: 240 litres and 360 litres. Contact 311 to request exchanging your cart for a different size. Fees may apply.

  • 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 – Remember to break down your cardboard into smaller pieces so it fits inside your closed bin. 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 blue cart at 45 degrees to the curb and if 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 blue 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 recycling 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 recycling 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. 

If you happen to put something in your blue 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.

What happens to your recyclables? Watch this video to find out!

Stay in the Loop - Download the Lethbridge Loop App!

  • View collection calendars.
  • Set up collection reminders.
  • Use the Waste Wizard to check if something can go into (or needs to stay out of) your blue cart.

Available to download for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

This website uses cookies to enhance usability and provide you with a more personal experience. By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies as explained in our Privacy Policy.