City Council voted to step up community waste diversion on November 28, 2016 by introducing residential curbside recycling in 2018.
The new curbside blue-cart program will initially roll out in 2018 as a pilot program to select areas of the city. The full program will roll out city-wide in 2019. The new program will provide blue carts to each household for curbside collection of unsorted recyclables every two weeks. Full implementation will see recycling and garbage picked up on alternating weeks, reducing garbage collection to every other week.
“In the past, I questioned the necessity of a municipal curbside recycling program. But since Council last considered this issue, it has become apparent to me that if our community is going to make a meaningful reduction in the amount of garbage we dispose of, we need everyone involved,” says Councillor Liz Iwaskiw, who brought the curbside proposal back to Council for consideration.
Council directed City administration to prepare two projects for the 2018-2027 capital budget for collection equipment required for the residential curbside recycling program and for the design and construction of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) which would handle all the recyclables collected via the curbside program. Administration also received direction to prepare a plan for Council to consider in 2019 for the introduction of a residential curbside organics (green-cart) collection program.
The new curbside program is projected to add $7 to monthly residential utility bills. These fees are expected to go into effect just prior to full implementation. Once the MRF is operational, the sale of the recyclable materials is expected to help offset a portion of the overall cost of the curbside program.
“This is an exciting step forward that will help Lethbridge reach our waste-disposal targets of 30-per-cent overall per-capita waste reduction by 2021 and 50 per cent by 2030,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “Residential curbside recycling is something City Council has researched, consulted and debated for more than two years. I’m proud we’re doing something tangible to reduce our community’s impact on the environment.”
Currently, Lethbridge generates 1,150 kg per capita of waste annually from all residential and non-residential sources that is disposed of in the landfill. The waste-reduction targets aim to reduce that figure to 795 kg per capita by 2021 and 600 kg per capita by 2030.
It’s estimated that just 20 per cent of residential waste is diverted from the landfill. With the introduction of blue-cart curbside recycling, that number is expected to increase to 35 per cent in 2019. In a 2013 survey, 80 per cent of Lethbridge residents said they would support a curbside recycling program. Convenience and the environment were the two top reasons residents were in favour of curbside recycling.
The City’s current recycling stations will remain open to complement curbside collection. They will remain available 24 hours for residents who have additional or large-item recycling and will continue to provide convenient locations for yard waste drop-off.
“One of the strategic goals of council is to be leaders in preserving our environment,” says Mayor Spearman. “We know successful waste diversion requires a broad community effort from businesses, residents, institutions, and ourselves as a municipality. I’m eager to see all of these pieces come together as we all work towards the common goal of reducing the waste going to our landfill.”
Council also directed City administration to establish a consultation committee with the City’s private recycling collection sector. This committee will explore potential opportunities for existing businesses to participate in the program.
In 2015, City Council approved a Waste Diversion Policy as well as a strategy for achieving their targets of reducing business-sector waste disposal by 25 per cent by 2021 and 45 per cent by 2030. The strategy is being implemented in phases over five years, from 2016-2020. It targets waste from the Industrial/Commercial/Institutional (ICI) and the Construction & Demolition (C&D) sectors, which account for about 75 per cent of material disposed of in the landfill each year.