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Lethbridge one step closer to curbside recycling as materials recovery facility opens

WATCH ABOVE: Lethbridge is one step closer to curbside recycling. The materials recovery facility is now up and running, a week ahead of the program launch. Jasmine Bala has more on the opening of the facility.

Lethbridge’s curbside recycling materials now have a home: the materials recovery facility (MRF).

It officially began operations Wednesday, just a week ahead of the city-wide curbside recycling program launch.

“It’s exciting,” Deputy Mayor Blaine Hyggen said. “We all know it’s been a long time coming and we’ve always, as council, wanted to do it right rather than just right now.”

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Before beginning operations, he said, city council examined what other communities were doing to see what would work best for Lethbridge. The result was the MRF.

READ MORE: Lethbridge announces curbside recycling updates, blue bins to arrive by spring

The 45,000 square foot facility will sort and process materials before they are baled and sold to companies to make new products. The MRF is able to process eight tonnes of recyclable material per hour and has the capacity to accept materials from neighbouring municipalities and businesses.

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Machines will sort about 60 per cent of the materials, separating cardboard, paper, aluminum, plastic and metal cans. Joel Sanchez, Lethbridge’s waste and recycling manager, said workers will sort through the rest to maintain quality.

“It’s not an easy job,” he said. “They’re going to be there trying to pick 40 to 50 items per minute, so it’s really busy.”

READ MORE: 1st phase of Lethbridge curbside recycling collects 34,000 kg of recyclable material

The sorting process can become harder when tainted materials are thrown into the blue bins, including cardboard pizza boxes that are covered in oil, Hyggen explained. For more information on what can and can’t be recycled, visit curbside.lethbridge.ca.

Recycling will be picked up from homes every other week and garbage collection will also be moved to a bi-weekly schedule.

The city’s first curbside pickups will be between May 14 and 24.