Calgary’s curbside recycling program turns 10

Calgary celebrates a decade of curbside recycling
WATCH: It’s been 10 years since the City of Calgary rolled out it’s blue cart program. Deb Matejicka reports on how Calgary’s recycling efforts have measured up after a decade.

Recycling has come a long way in Calgary since the city introduced its blue cart curbside recycling program in 2009, forever changing the way residents recycle.

“You no longer have to go to the community recycling depots and sort everything into categories,” said City of Calgary project management leader Sharon Howland.

“The blue cart made it convenient right from there, outside your house,” Howland explained. “You put your recycling in and all you have to do is make sure you’re putting the right things in the right way and the City of Calgary was taking care of the rest of it.”

READ MORE: Is Canada’s recycling industry broken?

From the get-go, the program has seen a 95 per cent participation rate and in a decade of blue cart recycling, Calgarians have recycled more than 600 million kilograms of materials. That’s enough to fill the Bow Tower eight times over and it’s meant 50 per cent fewer materials have ended up in the city’s landfills, according to officials.

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“What [Calgarians] set out on their curb — at least 30 per cent of it by weight is recycling — but by volume, it’s much closer to 70, 80 per cent of what they set out,” said Howland.

Colin Anderson has been driving a recycling truck for the city for more than a decade. He was part of a successful pilot project that eventually led to the blue cart program.

“I say everybody is trying. They do their part for sure,” Anderson said, adding he’s seen some strange things end up in people’s carts.

“I’d probably just say the animal carcasses for me. Like I’ve had deer heads and stuff like that in there,” he said, jokingly adding, “but that’s what the green cart’s for now I guess.”

As it celebrates the milestone, the city wants to commend Calgarians on their efforts but also to remind them to keep their recycling simple.

“Just keep the contamination out,” Anderson said. “Just pay attention and use all three carts the way they’re supposed to be used and [you] should be all good to go.”

READ MORE: Swimming in plastic: One B.C. man’s battle with recycling in his own home

Anyone who is wondering “what goes where” can find out more about what goes in Calgary’s blue, black and green carts online.

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“When in doubt, check it out,” Anderson said. “That’s our motto. Go to our ‘What Goes Where’ tool.”