Are you waste-wise? Trash inquisition coming to your street

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City crews are rummaging through your trash this month to see how wise St. Albert is when it comes to waste.

Two city employees are inspecting St. Albert’s trash this summer as part of a month-long curbside waste education program. The inspections started Aug. 14 and are set to continue into September.

“We want to encourage proper waste-sorting,” explained city waste and diversion program supervisor Olivia Kwok, who is one of the two inspectors.

Kwok said the city has done a lot of public education events on waste-sorting this year to encourage residents to divert waste from the landfill. As a pilot, she and a co-worker have been visiting random St. Albert streets on trash day to see if people are putting the wrong materials in their bags and carts, overstuffing them or putting them in the wrong place on the curb. When they spot these problems, they hang a flyer on the homeowner’s doorknob that says “Oops!” along with a description of the problem and how to avoid it.

Kwok said she has not seen many plastic bags in the city’s green bins so far. (Plastic bags were so common in the bins earlier this year that the Roseridge Landfill was threatening fines.) The most common problem was people putting plastic bags or wrappers in their blue bags. Those items aren’t recyclable and should go in the brown trash cart.

“We’ve also seen a lot of houses that have been sorting and setting out their waste perfectly,” she noted.

These homes get a fancy “waste-wise” sticker they can put on their carts.

Kwok said her crew had inspected about 575 homes as of Thursday and awarded about 80 waste-wise stickers – there were more than 80 homes with perfect waste technique, but only homes that had both a blue bag and their brown and green bins out on inspection day qualified for stickers.

Kwok said she was keeping the inspection schedule secret so as to not tip-off homeowners, but said inspectors would go out early in the day before the garbage trucks arrived and would be festooned with safety vests and city logos, ready to answer questions.

“Hopefully they (the residents) won’t be scared of us.”

Kwok said she would report to council on the inspections later this fall and hoped to run a similar program next summer.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.