If you have ever hurt your back taking out the garbage, you may want to learn from Lauren Singer. Her Ted Talk informed millions of a zero-waste concept. Her waste from one year fit into a 16-ounce mason jar. 

Chris Fowler, director of the City’s waste strategy, is stoked to see 250,000 Edmonton households separating waste to prevent food scraps and yard waste from going to the landfill. “It will make a big impact towards our City’s zero-waste future.” 

From April 13 to June 18, the City collected over 5,000 tonnes of organic waste and 560 tonnes of yard waste from spring yard waste collection alone. According to an April 13 City news release, “Today marks a significant milestone for Edmontonians as automated waste collection starts for almost 40,000 homes who received their carts in phase 1 of the Edmonton Cart Rollout.” 

Cart delivery is scheduled for the Eastwood, Alberta Avenue, Cromdale, and Spruce Avenue communities between June 29 and July 27, with the first collection days starting the week of Aug. 4. 

Each single-family home will receive a garbage cart, a food scraps cart, a food scraps pail, and an information package that includes a brochure, poster, collection calendar, and city map. 

Ferdie Lilybedh inspects her new carts. | Rusti L Lehay

To make it even easier, “download the free WasteWise app in the App Store or Google Play for sorting information and collection day reminders.”  

Not only will the new garbage carts help Edmonton move closer to the zero-waste goal, the new automated pick-up for the carts will also save sanitation workers from physical strain and injuries. Automated collection trucks use a mechanical arm to empty the carts. 

It is rewarding for Anna Kravchinsky, communications coordinator of city operations and waste services, to be part of a program that will modernize our waste system and “help our city become more sustainable for generations to come. I’m excited to see my community, friends, and neighbours see their daily habits change,” as waste is now redirected. 

Organic waste is converted to compost. Fowler says, “Residents who show commitment to learning about the Edmonton Cart Rollout or engage in waste reduction behaviours will also have the opportunity to collect the City of Edmonton Compost free of charge at the Ambleside Eco Station or the Kennedale Eco Station.” For more information, visit edmonton.ca/ecostations

With the carts in use, all participating Edmontonians can now, according to a City news release, “help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The rest of the city will transition to the new way of sorting and automated collection throughout the spring and summer until cart delivery is complete in August.”

To reach the zero-waste goal, the City presented a Multi-Unit Strategy Report to the Utility Committee on June 25, which recommends source separation for apartment and condo buildings. Fowler says, “If approved by council, multi-unit residences could transition to a three-stream collection program starting in 2023.”

A zero-waste future is exciting for Fowler, but there is “still work to be done.” Collaboration with non-governmental organizations plays a big role in waste reduction in our city. Part of the plan is to introduce a “broad spectrum of waste reduction activities such as reuse fairs, bike repairs, textile repairs, and urban harvest events.” The program will make it easy and rewarding for more Edmontonians to participate and think about waste reduction.