June 16th, 2024

Recycling tonnage way up after blue bin introduction

By Collin Gallant on July 19, 2018.

City worker Jason Thomson delivers blue carts on the 400 block of Ninth Street SE in early May. Officials in charge of new curbside recycling are reporting a major increase in volume collected.--NEWS FILE PHOTO


Blue carts are being credited for a huge boost in recycling volumes in Medicine Hat during its first month of the curbside service.

Recycling bins were distributed to all residences and duplexes in Medicine Hat in June, and during that month a total of 303 tonnes of recyclable material was collected by the city contractor CanPak Environmental.

That is 110 tonnes more than was collected in June 2017, marking a 60 per cent increase, with administrators pointing to the service as the reason.

“We’re very, very pleased with the reaction from the community,” said Brian Murphy, general manager of the city’s environmental utilities department.

City officials said diverting material from being buried at the landfill was key to extending its lifespan, thereby pushing out the need to spend millions closing it and opening another.

Offering home pickup of unsorted paper, plastic cardboard and tin cans, would be easier than the former voluntary drop-off depot system, and get more people actively recycling.

During a media briefing this spring, Canpak officials told the News they expected some stockpiling ahead of the start of the service. Essentially, some residents might put off trips to the drop-off depots knowing pickup was coming soon.

Even if some of the June’s extra tonnage is from buildup among residents, said Murphy, it shows people are using the bins and will likely continue.

“It’s possible there’s (an initial) bump from stockpiling,” said Murphy. “That’s why we’re looking forward to watching volumes over the next few months. But we’re happy and very pleased with the results.”

Murphy said feedback has been generally very positive, and most people are following suggestions and rules for the carts that operate and are picked up similarly to grey and green carts.

Residents are asked to leave material loose, not tie newspaper bundles or bag other material in black garbage bags.

Workers on the sorting line are not permitted for safety reasons to tear open bags of which they cannot see the contents. Clear bags are OK, but no bag is preferable, said Murphy.

Glass is similarly barred for pickup carts because it can break, contaminating paper and plastic and posing a harm to workers.

Jars, as well as electronics should be dropped of at bulk drop-off depots still in operation at four locations.

The fee for curbside service will be added to bills covering periods after July 1. The charge is $6.31 for an average month, but combined with a reduction in general pickup and other recycling charges, the overall difference is an additional $2.89.

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