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City of Lethbridge marks 1 year of curbside recycling

City of Lethbridge marks 1 year of curbside recycling
Lethbridge residents have been putting their blue carts at the curb for more than a year now. Taz Dhaliwal takes a look at the breakdown of recycling numbers over the first 12 months, and what the next steps could look like.

On Monday, the City of Lethbridge said the year-old curbside recycling program has made a significant impact with more than 3,700 tonnes of recyclable material saved from the landfill.

From May 2019 to May 2020, 78 per cent of recyclables were collected at the curb and 22 per cent at recycling stations, according to officials.

“Participation from the residents has been around 65 per cent, which is a good number,” said Joel Sanchez, the general manager of waste and recycling services for the City of Lethbridge.

“We really want to see that number a little bit up but it will come with program maturity.”

Read more: Is Canada’s recycling industry broken?

There has been a 15 per cent drop in recyclable materials being put in black carts. However, a sizable amount of materials being dumped in the black carts could be sorted into the blue ones.

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“We notice there are still 10 per cent of recyclable materials in the black cart,” Sanchez said.

Of the material arriving at the city’s sorting facility, a combined 89 per cent are fibres while seven per cent are plastics.

Read more: Chinese ban on foreign recycling won’t affect B.C.: industry

Previous Global News research revealed that Canada has been faced with a significant challenge after China and other countries in Asia stopped accepting recycling or started implementing strict restrictions on receiving other countries’ recyclables in 2018.

These revelations prompted members of Lethbridge city council to question what actually happens once the city ships it off to other landfills.

City officials said they ship to other Canadian and U.S. mills and recyclers but wouldn’t elaborate on exactly where, citing a competitive market, so it’s not known exactly where the local recyclables end up.

Environment Lethbridge said the city has been taking encouraging steps to help keep residents educated about the program.

“They’ve got this ‘oops tagging program,’ where if you put things in your bin that aren’t allowed, then they provide a sort of informational tag about why your items aren’t able to be recycled. That’s been very valuable,” said Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge.

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The next step in the program is to bring multi-unit dwellings into the fold by the end of this year.