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Lethbridge green cart program a success one year in, city says


The City of Lethbridge is calling the first year of its curbside organics waste collection program a success.

“Six million kilograms of organic waste in the green cart program, that averages out to about 175 kilograms per household,” said James Nicholls, waste and environment collections manager with the City of Lethbridge.

Out of that, about 56,000 kilograms of compost has been given back to the community.

“We’ve seen over 85 per cent of residents utilizing their green cart, which again, is a big change,” Nicholls said.

“We’ve asked a lot of the residents of Lethbridge and the majority of people have really stepped up.”

But with the move to bi-weekly pick-ups throughout the winter, the city saw that number fall.

Nicholls says food waste continues to make up 30 per cent of material collected in the black cart.

“Working with residents and understanding change takes time,” he said. “The winter months, especially, is where we see an opportunity for growth.”

In 2018, the city created a waste diversion target that aims to divert 50 per cent of waste generated in Lethbridge by 2030.

“Green bins and the organic collection program are just part of the overall success story that Lethbridge can talk about when it comes to waste diversion over the past few years,” said Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge.

Sheppard attributes that growth to the blue cart rollout in 2019, along with green carts last year.

She says along with waste diversion, Earth Day is a way to remind people about the changing seasons and getting prepared for the spring and summer ahead – whether inside or outside of their homes.

“If you’re a homeowner who has a garden, now is the time you need to be thinking about how you’re going to get through this summer with reduced water,” she explained.

“You need to be making those plans, thinking about rain barrels, you need to think about how you’re going to be altering your watering procedures in your garden so that you can get the best experience at the end of the summer.”

With weekly pick-up beginning next week, Nicholls says there is still one item being found that can’t be composted.

“Plastic bags is the biggest source of contamination,” he said. “So, we do still see, occasionally, plastic bags making their way into the organic stream, however, that’s a rate of four per cent, is the last contamination rate we had.”

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