Edmontonians are about to play a leading role in the biggest development in municipal waste management in years—and Allyson Dueck has some advice they can take to the curb.
For months now, Dueck, who lives in a Mill Woods neighbourhood, has been living with the new waste rollout carts as part of her weekly routine. Her neighbourhood is one of 13 across the city where residents have been testing the new carts—a garbage cart for leftover garbage and a food scraps cart with a small pail for food leftovers.
“It will be easier if you are committed to it,” Dueck said.
“I really encourage people to learn about the new carts because individual commitment will make a difference. It would be so impactful if we reduced the amount of garbage that is actually food waste.”
Choose your garbage cart size
To get ready for the delivery of the new carts, Edmontonians will have a choice between a small-sized and a large-sized garbage cart for their bi-weekly garbage pickup. There’s more information, including a Garbage Cart Size Calculator, to help residents figure out the right size of garbage cart for their household needs.
The large garbage cart (240L) is the default size that will be delivered to all residences. People who produce less leftover garbage must indicate on the website if they want the small garbage cart (120L) instead.
The cart for food scraps and day-to-day yard waste comes in one volume (120L) for all.
Bi-weekly garbage pickup
It’s important to plan for and know that residential garbage pickup moves from once a week to every two weeks with the rollout of the carts. This is because residents will “source separate” food scraps out of the garbage stream, meaning less of it will go into what was the black bag and will now be the garbage cart.
“Yes, there was more going into the green cart and less in the garbage,” said Dueck.
Food scraps pickup is once a week in the spring, summer and fall, and once every two weeks in the winter.
Dueck shared three things to keep in mind to make the transition from the old world (throwing food scraps in with leftover garbage) to the new world (separating the two streams into garbage and food scraps carts).
• Think in two streams
Dueck said it takes a bit of training to not just throw out food scraps with the rest of the garbage.
“For some people, this will be brand new, and it will mean a new kind of habit will have to be formed, but it’s very do-able,” Dueck said.
“If there are as many green carts as black carts out on pickup day, that will be success,” she said.
• Choose the right garbage cart
Dueck, who has completed the Master Composter Recycling Program, uses the small-sized cart.
“In our area, you could see that there were some challenges when it came to what would fit in people’s carts,” Dueck said.
“But that’s not a bad thing. Awareness is a good thing. It brings awareness of how much waste you are producing, and that’s the first step to actually reducing it.”
• Plan where to store the carts
“You have to put some thought into where to store the two carts,” Dueck said.
Garage? Back of house? Keep them in the lane? If cart pickup is in the front of the house, where do the carts stay between pickup days? In the summer when it’s warmer, where does the food scraps cart stay?
“It’s not difficult,” Dueck said. “It’s just something that people will have to face.”
Change for climate
It can be daunting to face the bigger questions of how much waste we produce as a community and society, Dueck admits.
“I listen to the How to Save a Planet podcast and they ask their expert guests the question, basically, how screwed are we?” Dueck said.
“The majority answer with hope. More and more people are becoming aware and taking action. There are a lot of ideas out there. Not mainstream yet, maybe, but becoming mainstream. I’m going to say that we’re heading in the right direction, not to say we don’t have to light the fire and move quicker.”
Her parents’ example
For Dueck, all of the source separation lingo and statistics about waste diversion and composting boil down to what she learned from her parents. Don’t throw out stuff that you don’t have to throw out. Put stuff where it belongs.
“I grew up with the lesson that whatever you think about throwing out might be able to be used for something else,” said Dueck. “That’s what this is about.”
The road ahead
Cart delivery starts this March. New cart pickup service kicks off a month after cart delivery and rolls out across the city through September. Blue bags for recyclables stay the same. Yard waste pickup will happen four times a year (two in both the spring and fall) in either paper or clear bags.
Editor’s notes: People who choose the small (120L) garbage cart will qualify for a waste reduction rate discount of $3.90/month off the current monthly utility rate starting in October 2021. The pics at the top of the post show Allyson Dueck and her 120L carts in Mill Woods, courtesy Allyson Dueck.