The City of Red Deer has begun rolling out their Green Cart program, with organic materials being collected on the same day Red Deerians regularly have their garbage and recycling collected
Mayor Tara Veer, who said she is already using her Green Cart, said this is a key way to reduce waste in Red Deer’s current landfill.
“Up to 35 per cent of residential waste is organics,” she said. “We recognized that this is the right environmental thing to do for our community as well as extending the life of our existing landfill.”
Green Carts, according to Veer, are the next phase in a program that began with the collection of blue boxes for recycling back in 1991. Back then, Red Deerians were reluctant to use blue boxes, but the program has since expanded to include 90 per cent of residents voluntarily using the boxes to recycle.
Veer says she expects a similar response to Green Carts.
“We recognize there will be a transition time that we will need to be patient with. Certainly over time, we expect there will be strong buy-in,” she said.
The carts, in order to be picked up properly, need to be placed on a flat surface with a metre of space on all sides, and Waste Management Superintendent Janet Whitesell said much of a person’s regular daily waste can go into the Green Cart.
“Not only can you deposit all of your regular yard waste like grass clippings, leaves and small branches, you can also put in table scraps, processed food, cooked meat, poultry carcasses, greasy paper towel and pet waste,” she said. “Results from the cart pilot program, which began in 2015 and involved 2,000 residents, showed households were able to reduce their garbage by 39 per cent.”
Kelly Kloss, City of Red Deer director of Development Services, said the City learned a lot from the pilot project and will continue to be available to residents who need help.
“People are saying, ‘When do we get our carts as well?’. The good thing about the pilot program is that we have learned a lot of what is going well and what we can do better. We can then extrapolate that to the bigger city,” he said.
He added the City can provide guidance to residents looking to know where their carts can go and what can be put into them.
Another concern identified by residents is the space that blue, black and green carts will take up.
“What we try to remind people is that they are already using quite a bit of space with recycling, garbage and composting. This is just reorganizing that a little bit,” he said.
He added the timing of this roll out is consistent with the City’s environmental master plan.
“We have done many things to help reduce our environmental footprint,” Kloss said, adding the City is currently looking into options they can explore to accommodate businesses and multi-family dwellings.
“We are starting small but dreaming big,” he said.
Veer added, “It is the right environmental thing to do.”