Recycling audits show room to improve

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The City of Airdrie’s Waste and Recycling team has completed two audits of the garbage and recycling collection programs, which show some areas of improvement. Tracy Pagenhardt, program co-ordinator, shared the results of the first two audits with council Jan. 16.

“This mid-term audit does give us some information that we’re certainly using and will be using with our education plans, but once we get that full year’s worth of data we’ll be having a further report,” she said.

According to Pagenhardt, the City will use the results from the third audit to help guide development of a five-year waste management plan and a waste and recycling education plan.

“We’ll use it to really target those items that we have issues with for sure. Education is key to compliance, to ensure folks know what goes where,” she said.

The City completed a baseline audit in March 2017, prior to the start of the curbside recycling program, which looked at how residents dispose of their garbage. A total of 100 residences in Windsong, Coopers Crossing, Edgewater and Airdrie Meadows were part of the audit. A mix of older and newer homes and detached and attached homes with front and alley collection were included.

A second audit took place in September 2017, which included curbside blue-bin and organics recycling. The same 100 households were part of the audit.

According to the September audit, organics continue to make up 35 per cent of what people are putting in the garbage. This is significant because Airdrie has had an organics program since 2014. The organics being thrown into regular garbage are primarily edible and inedible food, rather than yard waste.

Items that could be recycled in the blue-cart program made up approximately 10 per cent of the garbage, down from approximately 16 per cent in the March audit. The contamination rate in the blue carts is 19.1 per cent and includes electronics, textiles and bags of miscellaneous material. Paper comprises the majority of the material in the blue carts at 59 per cent.

The number of garbage bags households put out for collection dropped from 15 per cent – at two bags – in March to four per cent in September. The number of households only putting out one bag of garbage increased from 32 per cent in March to 59 per cent in September.

Mayor Peter Brown asked whether the City could use strategies other municipalities have developed to educate residents about how the waste and recycling program works.

“For our education, we are continually looking at various options,” Pagenhardt replied. “We’re looking at different engagement techniques, certainly getting out to the stores, as we do currently, trying to educate folks. We’re also looking at any new changes to programs – trying to get out to those target communities that are in need of a little bit of extra education.”

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