New website and ability to choose cart size among the first steps being taken towards curbside recycling rollout

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
January 8, 2019 - 2:17pm

LETHBRIDGE - Curbside recycling is almost here, with only a couple of months left until blue carts are set to hit Lethbridge streets.

To get prepared, the City of Lethbridge has launched a new website, to help inform residents of the ins and outs of curbside recycling.

At the end of November, the city intimated that preparations for the full rollout were on track

The new website includes a number of tools, including the ability to request a smaller blue cart, should residents wish to downsize.

All households will receive a 360L blue cart by default but before Feb. 15, residents can choose to downsize to a 240L cart.

If a smaller cart is not requested, a large cart will automatically be delivered in the spring.

Waste and Recycling Services General Manager Joel Sanchez says they're excited to work with the community over the next several months to get them the information they need to be successful recyclers.

"The first thing they can do is think about the cart size that will work best for them. We suspect most people will want the larger cart, remembering that it will only be picked up every other week. That being said, for those who live alone and have limited storage space, a smaller cart might meet their needs."

Sanchez also recommended that people take advantage of the Waste Wizard tool.

"If people subscribe to it, it will send reminders to them to let them know when the collection is going to happen. So, even in the future when the city-wide program is implemented, if you are subscribed it will send you a reminder saying this week is the blue cart collection and next week is the black cart.

"There are other tools as well that will tell people what materials are recyclable or not and where you can take it at different stations in the station," Sanchez said.

In phase 1 of the curbside recycling program, which rolled out to 900 homes last spring, the majority of participants had the larger sized cart.

As a reference, the 360L cart is the same size as the standard black cart which can hold five bags of garbage. The 240L carts would hold three bags of garbage.

The new curbside website also provides a comprehensive list of what materials can be put in the blue carts and what needs to be left out.

As a general rule, hard plastics, paper, cardboard and tin cans will be in and glass, stretch plastics and anything made of mixed material should be kept out.

"What we have been doing as part of Phase 1, and as part of the city-wide implementation, we are trying to communicate the right message," Sanchez continued. "The materials that we are including in the program have been in the research for the past year."

They've also been talking to other communities to see how they've dealt with certain materials, and Sanchez offered an example that in the Edmonton area they decided to exclude some plastic film and glass last month.

"So, on the website, you have the comprehensive list of materials, why they're recyclable or not, and what are the options to do. Quality is our number one focus, the better we are at only putting clean, acceptable material in our bin, the more successful our curbside program will be."

That's why Sanchez believes communication with residents is so important as they roll out the program.

City Council approved a new waste bylaw to include curbside recycling on Dec. 10. Beginning in April, the City of Lethbridge will be collecting an additional $7/month through residential utility bills to pay for a portion of the curbside recycling program expenses.

Officials say this fee will help fund things like carts and cart collection as well as the construction and operation of the Materials Recovery Facility that will sort and process recyclables.

The same operating costs are incurred regardless of the cart size, so residents will pay the flat $7/month fee whether they choose a large or small blue cart.

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