During a city committee meeting on Wednesday, the City of Lethbridge’s waste and recycling services general manager provided an update on what a curbside organics program could possibly look like. Such a program is something many other municipalities already have.
“When you look at other municipalities the same size of Lethbridge — and even neighbour municipalities — they do have a green cart program in place — the City of Calgary, Red Deer, Taber and Coaldale,” Joel Sanchez said.
He said if the city moves forward with the program, it is expected to cost $7 per month per household starting in 2023 and the total cost from 2022-2025 would be $10.6 million.
According to a survey the city conducted in 2019, 81 per cent of respondents said food and yard waste diversion is very important to them while 85 per cent said there needs to be more investment towards waste diversion.
If the program is given the green light, curbside pickup of the green bins is expected to be done on a weekly basis in the summer and then a bi-weekly basis during the winter.
“During the summer is when we have the yard waste component, so that’s when the tonnage increases,” Sanchez explained.
“When we look at the history of the tonnage, typically the tonnage in January, February, March is not as high as the summertime, because then people start cutting the lawn,” he said.
With 51 per cent of the content in garbage bins being organic material, experts say a new curbside program would significantly reduce waste, and help increase the longevity of landfills.
Sanchez said a green bin pickup system could also noticeably decrease the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, by diverting an estimated 12,000 tons of waste from landfills every year.
“When the blue carts were rolled out, the black carts moved to a bi-weekly pickup instead of every week,” said Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge.
Sheppard gave a presentation during Wednesday’s city committee meeting outlining the benefits of implementing the program.
“Green carts would be on a weekly pickup during the summer and that should reduce some of the issues people have with smell and some of those other things, which I know have been a point of contention for some,” Sheppard said.
She went on to say much of the organic material found in garbage bins, such as bones and peels, isn’t edible either, but could be easily used as compost in gardens or on farms.
The proposed curbside organics program is expected to be brought before council on May 11. The program needs council’s approval in order to move forward.