Sorting through wrongly disposed-of material is an ongoing battle for workers at the Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Centre.
While it may seem harmless to residents, Steve Rozee, the waste and recycling manager with the City of Lethbridge, said some of the items the centre is receiving can cause significant safety risks for front-line workers.
“Every day we’re going to see something in there that shouldn’t be in there,” Rozee said.
“Recently we had a situation where one of our workers in the Material Recovery Facility received a very bad cut that required medical treatment at the emergency room from broken glass.
“That broken glass was actually in a plastic garbage bag that he was removing from mixed plastics from the recycling depots.”
Food, scrap metals and glass are some of the main offenders workers are finding in blue bins; none of which belong in the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) at the centre.
And in the landfill, propane cans and discarded batteries are causing trouble for workers.
“In the last two weeks, we’ve identified three very small and contained fires that we were able to put out with our professional staff. They were caused by, in all cases, we believe, re-chargeable batteries,” he said.
“We have also received explosive containers.”
“If you see one of these hazardous symbols then you know that that shouldn’t go in either cart.”
With safety for both residents and workers a priority for the city, officials are asking residents to be more diligent with their waste.
If people are unsure of how to dispose of an item, Rozee said there are many options residents can look to for help.
“We have extensive information available on our website and through the waste wizard tool where you can look up how to dispose of virtually anything,” he said.
Rozee encourages residents who are still unsure to contact the city’s 311 information line for further instructions.