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Lethbridge curbside recycling: so far, so good

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WATCH ABOVE: Seven months after the launch of its curbside recycling program, Lethbridge Waste and Recycling officials say they are having no trouble finding markets for their recyclables. Emily Olsen reports – Dec 19, 2019

Seven years since the launch of Lethbridge’s curbside recycling program, city officials say they are having no difficulty with finding markets for their recyclables.

“We’ve had… business as usual accumulations of recyclables, but they come and go from time to time,” said Steve Rozee, waste and recycling manager for the City of Lethbridge.

Since China closed its doors to Canadian plastics, many concerns have been raised about where the affected products would end up.

Lethbridge has seen its own success with the help of a contracted marketing partner.

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“They market probably 25 per cent of the recyclables in North America,” Rozee said. “They’re very large in this business. They have access to a lot of processing facilities, so we don’t limit ourselves to one or the other.

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“They — from month to month — will find the best facility for our material [and] the best price for the City of Lethbridge.”

Since the first collection in May of this year, the city has shipped 2,077 tonnes of fibre to North American markets and 230 tonnes of containers, including cans, beverage containers and plastic, to markets within Canada.

“At this point, all of our recyclables have gone to North America, including the plastics. So nothing’s gone overseas,” Rozee said.

“We’re very focused on knowing what’s happening to the recyclables… knowing that it’s not being rebrokered somewhere out of our control.”

The deal also allows the city more control over what happens to the products sent out.

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

Rozee saID the amount of contamination from foods and other residues on recyclables people turn in has decreased.

This is a benefit to the city because it makes for higher quality recycling and generates better financial returns for the city.

“We put a lot of effort and focus on the quality of what we produce. We work very closely with our marketing partner and the downstream processors to make sure that we’re producing products that they want.”

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Officials encourage everyone to continue to pay attention to the cleanliness and quality of their curbside recycling, and to check online for details on what is and is not allowed.

One item to pay particular attention to this season is wrapping paper, which cannot be recycled due to the coating applied.

Christmas tree recycling pickup will take place on Jan. 11.