Curbside organics could divert ‘up to 10,000 tonnes’ from Lethbridge landfill

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The city’s move to curbside organics collection is being re-examined, after council voted eight to one in favour of digging into the cost of modifying infrastructure that would allow residents to drop off organic waste themselves. Erik Bay takes a closer look at organics collection and how similar programs have fared elsewhere – Feb 2, 2022

Curbside organics is under the microscope after Lethbridge Coun. Rajko Dodic asked for more information on the impacts of changing the current plan of establishing curbside pickup to having residents drop off organic waste at designated sites.

“Whether you go from a mandatory, weekly, everybody pay program to something that’s more voluntary and you do it on your own, that’s the real reason, and what would be the financial implications?” Dodic said at a council meeting on Jan. 18.

Read more: Lethbridge city council reopens discussions on future curbside organics program

Curbside organic pickup is set to begin in 2023, with weekly collection between Apr. 1 and Oct. 31, and then biweekly from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31.

This wouldn’t be the first time Lethbridge residents moved to a pickup disposal method.

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Since curbside recycling was implemented in 2019, city administration is seeing more than twice as many recyclables diverted from landfills every year.

Read more: Lethbridge city council approves CIP plan as questions continue about budget cycle process

“Before the blue cart program, we were typically getting in a year somewhere between 2,200 to 2,500 tonnes of materials,” waste and recycling utility general manager Joel Sanchez said. “We have seen — 2021 is a good example, and in 2020, it was over 5,500 tonnes.”

Other cities already offer curbside organics pickup.

Red Deer city officials say the average amount of waste collected per household per year has dropped from 560 kilograms in 2017 — the year before the program was implemented — to 408 kilograms last year.

“We had developed our waste management master plan that was approved in 2013, and it set a target for 2023 of having 400 kilograms per household per year of garbage collection,” Janet Whitesell, the city’s waste management superintendent, said.

Read more: Proposed curbside organics program to be discussed at Lethbridge city council meeting

With the Lethbridge curbside organics pickup model set to be fully operational next year, the city’s current projections predict thousands of tonnes can be diverted from landfills.

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“We know that half of what it is in the black cart, currently based on waste audits, is organics material. The plan is that we can divert up to 10,000 tonnes when the program is mature,” Sanchez said.

For now, the current organics plan is moving forward.

Administration will provide a report to the economic standing policy committee on Apr. 13, with answers to Dodic’s questions.

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