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Edmonton to have full source-separated waste collection by August, new carts begin rolling out to homes in March

Edmonton Journal logo Edmonton Journal 2021-01-06 Dustin Cook
Workers deliver new waste carts in the Ellerslie neighbourhood as part of the collection pilot project in April 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia Workers deliver new waste carts in the Ellerslie neighbourhood as part of the collection pilot project in April 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Waste collection in Edmonton will soon be changing and not only because trucks will be equipped with an automated arm to pick up garbage.

Residents in all single-unit homes and some multi-unit homes will receive a black garbage cart and a green organics cart within the next several months. When the new system starts later this year, food scraps will need to be separated from garbage and put into the organics cart for composting. Recycling will continue to be picked up in blue bags and there is no cart planned for that at this time.

Waste services branch manager Michael Labrecque said the shift is part of the city’s 25-year waste strategy and long-term goal of diverting 90 per cent of waste from landfill.

“As we build a city for two million people, the choices and decisions we make to protect our environment, conserve valuable resources, send less waste to landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions become an even more important focus for waste services in the city of Edmonton as we reimagine our way forward,” he said Wednesday.

The new system will be rolled out between March and August, split into six phases across the city. Residents at the very north end of the city and in some southeast communities will receive their carts first, between March 15 and April 10. Collection of the carts will then start April 13. The last communities, in the west end, will receive the new bins between July 28 and Aug. 30, with collection starting Aug. 31.

Despite the phased rollout, all residents have until Feb. 12 to select what size of garbage cart they would like. The large bin, at 240 litres, is the default size and is recommended for households with three or more people. A smaller 120-litre cart is available upon request by Feb. 12 in order to receive it by the start of the new program. An online form to request the smaller cart size is on the city’s website .

Garbage pickup every two weeks

Garbage will no longer be picked up every week and that should be top of mind when choosing the cart size. The garbage cart will now only be collected every two weeks, while recycling will continue to be picked up weekly, as will organics through spring, summer and fall. Organics pickup will transition to every two weeks in the winter.

But the new carts do come with a price tag that will impact monthly utility rates after a grace period until October. Households that stick with the large garbage bin will see the monthly rate increase by $1.10 up to $48.32 in October. Those that opt for the smaller cart will see a rate decrease by $3.90 per month.

Separating organics is expected to remove about 34 per cent of waste from the landfill, with about 40 per cent of garbage currently collected deemed to be compostable.

With 68,000 tonnes of organics expected annually through source separation, there currently isn’t enough room in the city’s composting system. This is due in large part to the sudden closure of the composting facility in the spring of 2019 caused by structural issues. A new anaerobic digester will be able to process 40,000 tonnes annually and Labrecque said the city is currently working on agreements with regional partners to take the organics and avoid the landfill. A new composting facility in Edmonton is in the works for 2025.

“We will continue to take all possible steps to keep organics out of the landfill and plan to process organics from the cart rollout at the waste management centre as well as through contracted partners in the Edmonton region,” he said.

As the city transitions to the new program, Labrecque said the goal is to rapidly ramp up the waste diversion rate to 65 per cent by 2023. The forecasted waste diversion rate for 2020 is 17 per cent, down from 21 per cent in 2019, and well below the target of 50 per cent. About 20,000 tonnes of recyclables collected in 2020 were sent to landfill.


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