Thousands of St. Albert residents will face a challenge today as they walk up to their trash cans: what to put where?
St. Albert's waste collection system undergoes a revolution today as the city introduces a number of changes to what it does with its garbage. Not only is it switching landfills and trucks, but it is also introducing curbside organic waste collection. That means residents will have to learn how to split their waste between the brown trash and the green organic carts.
City staffers have been getting about 150 calls a day about the changes, says environmental co-ordinator Meghan Myers, most of which involve cart delivery. Deliveries should be finished today, with about 750 cart swap-outs to follow in the next few weeks. A large bin will also arrive at the recycling depot to collect tagged trash bags people can't fit in their carts.
The Gazette asked solid waste program co-ordinator Christian Benson to show us how to sort trash. "I'm really surprised at what's considered organic," he says. "You really don't have a large amount that's going to the landfill waste stream anymore."
Two big changes kick in this June 1, Benson says. "The first is our moving to an automated waste program." Instead of slinging bags into the back of a truck, trash collectors will now use a robotic arm to tip carts into their vehicles — a change the 2008 solid waste review said would save the city money on labour. The blue bags for recycling will still be slung by hand.
Three trucks will now visit each house on garbage day — one for the brown trash cart, one for the green organic cart, and one for the blue recyclable bag. The blue bag truck will visit every week. The green cart truck will visit every week from April to October and every other week from October to April. Brown carts will be collected every other week.
Garbage day will also be fixed for each neighbourhood, Benson continues. The old system had a floating schedule that shifted whenever there was a holiday. The new one sets a specific day of the week for each neighbourhood — Wednesday for Forest Lawn, for example, and Thursday for Akinsdale. "If I'm Tuesday now, I'll be Tuesday forever."
If that day is a holiday, garbage will be collected on the next open day for that week only.
Green or brown?
The second change is the introduction of curbside organic recycling.
Benson cuts into a typical bag of trash he borrowed from his house. The blue bag here has recyclables, he says — bottles, flyers and paper. This white bag has a polystyrene container, some cups and a tube of toothpaste, all of which are trash. In the compostable bag are buns, eggs, coffee grounds and paper towels.
"Anything that was once living can be considered organic," Benson notes, so food, grass, pizza boxes and paper towels all go into the green bin. Clean paper, cans and bottles are recyclable, so they go in the blue bag. Thin plastic wrappers and rusty cans are not living and not recyclable, so they go in the trash.
Composite items such as dental floss and feminine hygiene products are not fully organic, he continues, and should go in the trash. Ash is organic, but should only be put in the green cart if it's very, very cool — hot ash could set your cart on fire.
Pet waste is technically organic, Benson says, but Roseridge Landfill isn't sure how it will affect its compost. "We don't want to include a product they have issues with," so they're asking all residents to put poop in the brown trash cart for now.
Any questions on what goes where should go to [email protected] or 780-459-1520.