Before mounds of Christmas wrapping paper ends up in Red Deer’s waste stream, Janet Whitesell wants to remind residents to dispose of the material in their black carts.
While Red Deerians are generally doing well in adapting to the three-cart system, Whitesell, the city’s waste management superintendent, believes some more public education on sorting wouldn’t hurt.
According to feedback received from waste collectors, as well as information gleaned from students who were previously tasked with lifting some cart lids, certain materials are still being mistakenly placed in the wrong carts.
Plastic grocery bags, for example, should be sorted into black carts with garbage bound for the landfill, instead of in blue recycling or green organic carts, said Whitesell.
She believes some people are still using plastic bags to contain their recyclables or organics, when they should be using compostable bags if they intend to throw these materials into blue or green carts.
Glass is still ending up in blue carts, where it shatters once these are dumped into trucks, and contaminates other recyclables.
While there’s less glass showing up in blue carts than was previously disposed of in blue boxes, Whitesell wants to remind city residents that all recyclable glass wastes now need to be taken directly to the landfill for collection.
“It’s important that all of our recyclables are clean, so that we can market them,” she added.
Polystyrene, which is used to cushion electronic products, can sometime end up in blue or green carts. This form of packing material, as well as used gift wrapping paper, should be placed with regular garbage in black carts, as it can’t be recycled or composted, said Whitesell.
She noted there’s too much dye, metallic or plastic content in gift wrap to turn it into recycled paper.
The City of Calgary is informing its citizens that random cart inspections will be done to ensure people are placing the right materials in the appropriate carts.
Whitesell said nothing like this is imminently planned for Red Deer — although there will be discussions about whether students can be hired again next summer, through the Recycling Council of Canada, to lift some local cart lids for a quick inspection.
The problem with this method is that only items at the very top of the cart are visible, said Whitesell.
She and her staff will also discuss whether to send more public awareness information with utility bills in the new year.