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Organics recycling program shows success in three months

By: Christina Waldner

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:43 am

The City of Airdrie is reminding residents to place their green organics recycling carts properly for pick-up.
The City of Airdrie is reminding residents to place their green organics recycling carts properly for pick-up.
Christina Waldner/Rocky View Publishing

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The City of Airdrie is now collecting more organics recycling than garbage three months after implementing the green cart program.

“Residents have done an amazing job recycling their organics and we look forward to helping everyone become more green cart savvy,” said Tracey Chala, team leader of Waste and Recycling Services.

Chala said more organics were picked up in June than regular garbage; the City only collected 617 metric tonnes of waste compared to 741 metric tonnes of organics.

There is work to be done to ensure residents place their green carts correctly for pick-up and only place acceptable materials in the carts, however, Chala said.

Carts are picked up by a truck with an automated arm, which means they must be placed on the street or alley outside a residence with the lid facing out towards the road or alley. There are arrows on the top of the cart lid indicating the proper placement. A one-metre clearance must be left on all sides.

Carts may be tagged for a variety of reasons: because they contain plastic/garbage bags, diapers or wipes, foam products (cups, containers or packaging), glass, plastic or metal; they are facing the wrong direction, or are not placed on the street, or are too close to objects.

For the month of July, garbage collectors will leave an orange tag for the resident if they see a cart placed incorrectly or if it contains non-organic material, but will still empty the cart. Starting in August, tagged carts will not be collected. The tag will inform the homeowner of the issue that needs to be corrected. A sample of the orange tag can be seen on the City’s website at

Once the homeowner complies with the guidelines, crews will empty carts that were tagged on the next regular pick-up day.

Chala said the number of carts being tagged so far in July varies from one street to the next. The number of improperly placed carts this month ranges from five per cent to 30 per cent.

While most people are putting only acceptable materials in the carts, Waste and Recycling is seeing some non-organic items. So far this month, Chala said they have recorded less than one per cent contamination.

“Contamination, or placing materials that are not organics into your green cart, can lead to our material being rejected,” she added. “It also reduces the quality of the end compost.”

The organics recycling program received some criticism from residents when it was first launched in April as some questioned the added cost and wondered why blue box recycling was not introduced instead, but Chala said the number of complaints has dropped off significantly.

“We receive very few complaints these days. Most of our calls are asking about clarification on the program, whether it is related to acceptable items or cart placement,” said Chala.

The program costs residents $5.26 per month.

Chala said she is pleased with the number of residents taking part in the organics recycling program. About 70 per cent of carts are placed out for collection in any given week.

“Residents don’t typically place them out every week,” Chala added, “so we estimate that the participation rate for the entire community is likely above 95 per cent, whether they have used their cart regularly or just one time.”

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