Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dreaming of Waste-Less Holidays

Edmontonians have been busy using social media to share ideas on how they reduce the amount of waste they produce during the holidays.

This social media conversation was sparked by a waste-less holidays contest organized by the City of Edmonton. Residents were invited to participate by sharing creative, useful and fun tips though the City’s Twitter account, Facebook page and Transforming Edmonton blog.

The contest got Edmontonians talking about simple ways they can embrace the holidays while being conscious of the waste produced.

Here are some of the ideas we’ve heard on how to reduce holiday waste:
Rethink the way you package your presents: consider using a scarf, festive flyers or cookie tins. Reuse wrapping materials and decorations.
Give waste-friendly gifts such as a shared experience or homemade baking; donate your skills and time to a charity.
Avoid food waste: plan your food and donate unopened treats to the food bank.
After the holidays make sure you recycle boxes, paper (including all non-foil gift wrap), plastic and glass bottles and jars, and cans and aluminum trays.

During the holidays, Edmonton’s waste volumes double. The City encourages residents to reduce, reuse and recycle to minimize the amount of waste.

Submission deadline has been extended until midnight MDT on Thursday, December 19th, 2013.

Check out the contest and what your fellow Edmontonians are doing to reduce their holiday waste by

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Waste Collection

Due to the holidays the City of Edmonton has made the following changes to its waste collection schedule. If your collection falls on Wednesday, December 25, 2013, your waste will be collected on Monday, December 23, 2013.

If your collection falls on Wednesday, January 1, 2014, your waste will be collected on Monday, December 30, 2013 instead.

If your collection day is Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, there will be no change over the holidays. (Collectors will be working on Boxing Day, December 26, 2013.)

Please remember that for your collector’s safety and your own, it is important to clear snow from your collection area and spread sand on icy surfaces. Place garbage and recycling bags on level ground as close to the street or alley as possible, not on top of windrows or snow piles. 

The City thanks residents for helping make our collectors’ job safer, especially during the holiday and winter season.

For more information about waste collection visit or call 311.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hybrid Trucks...Part 1

Did you know that the City of Edmonton currently has 7 hybrids in its fleet of vehicles for collecting waste? Two of these trucks were purchased in 2012, and five more were added in 2013 to replace older vehicles. All of the hybrids are currently in active use.

Remember those fun, art-wrapped trucks we featured in Kennedale's new look last month? The two red ones are both hybrids.

The trucks run on diesel, like the other vehicles, but are fitted with a special Engine Stop-Start hybrid system that turns off the engine while the vehicle is immobile. This reduces idling time in vehicles, like collections trucks, that make frequent stops. The engine restarts when the compactor is engaged or when the accelerator is pressed. The transmission remains engaged so there is no lag when starting again. Hydraulic energy is also harvested from braking. Click here to watch a video showing the system in action.

The hybrid system reduces exhaust emissions of SO2, NOx, and particulates by 20%, compared to a conventional system. According to the manufacturer, fuel consumption can also be reduced by 15 to 20%. The City of Edmonton plans to conduct an efficiency review of the seven vehicles in early 2014 to find out what kind of numbers we are seeing for our particular usage patterns. They will use that data to make future decisions concerning our waste collections fleet.

We're certainly looking forward to hearing those results, and we'll be sure to share some findings with you in Hybrid Trucks...Part 2.

Record MCR volunteering

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Snow Joke for Waste Collectors

Snow is falling, and so could waste collectors as the collection of garbage and recycling becomes increasingly challenging with hazardous winter conditions.

Falls due to slippery waste collection sites are a common cause of collector injuries.

Residents can help make the job safer for their collectors.
What can we do to help? click here

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kennedale's new look

In 2012, as part of the City of Edmonton's Percent to Art policy, the Edmonton Arts Council turned 5 of our waste collection vehicles into mobile art. Under this directive, one percent of the budget for qualifying projects is allocated for art to be installed in public view, for all citizens and visitors to enjoy.

These trucks are fully functional, in service, and bringing smiles to Edmontonians on garbage day around the city.

Recently, as part of that same initiative, the decorated trucks were immortalized on the outer walls of the expanded Kennedale Waste Management Facility. Each truck has been re-imagined into a different landscape. Some of the resulting portraits are peaceful, some are outlandish, and some will just make you grin.

I'm having a hard time picking between the truck on the moon, and the truck in the icy mountain range.

Which is your favourite? Take our poll!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Little Free Libraries in Oliver

Take a book, leave a book

... That's the simple slogan driving the Little Free Library movement. It's a simple concept based on sharing and passing on. At heart, a Little Free Library is a box full of books in a public place. It is accessible to anyone in the community, and is not policed beyond simple maintenance. Patrons are encouraged to take a book, leaving another in exchange, so that there is a constant rotation of reading material.

Most Little Free Libraries go beyond just "a box of books", however, and become community hubs in miniature. They are lovingly constructed and cared for - by their creators and by enthusiastic neighbours.
According to the, there are only a handful registered in Edmonton, but folks in the Oliver Community League wants to change that. Their goal is to create, install, and stock 10 Little Free Libraries in their neighbourhood. According to their Make Something Edmonton site, they are 60% towards reaching their goal. The libraries are made out of old newspaper boxes and the league recently held a very successful "painting party" to decorate them. Now they just need to set them up and fill them up!

Live in Oliver and interested in becoming a Little Free Librarian? Contact the Oliver Community League for information on how you can curate a location or donate to the Little Free Library project.

Live somewhere else? Why not start a Little Free Library in your area?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Edmonton receives funding for organic waste processing facility

A provincial agency that directs funding grants toward projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions is providing 10 million dollars to the City of Edmonton for the construction of an organic waste processing facility.

The City of Edmonton is one of eight recipients of funding for renewable energy projects announced today by the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation.

find out more

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fun Times at the 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Event

All year long, dedicated volunteers help Edmonton's Waste Management Services make our city great. They work tirelessly to promote environment-friendly practices and show fellow citizens how to be more waste-conscious. We are very grateful for their efforts and proud share their enthusiasm and engagement.

On October 2nd, we hosted the third Volunteer Appreciation Event. Almost 100 volunteers, guests, and staff came out to celebrate. It was a lively evening with plenty of conversations, live music, awards, and delicious food.

Local-Food Vendors

Six fabulous vendors attended the event this year. They offered delicious samples of locally produced food (and sold some products on-hand). In fact, a couple of vendors were completely sold out at the end of the night! Vendors also generously donated items as door prizes.

Live music featured Elliot Thomas, on guitar, and Spencer Murray, on flute.

Volunteer Achievement Awards

Though only in its third year, people have embraced the concept of the Volunteer Achievement Awards; this year we received over 80 nominations from volunteers and staff, in 6 categories. 

Congratulations to all of the nominees!
Outstanding Group Award
Goodwill Industries of Alberta
Innovation Award
Michelle E.

Leadership Award
Margaret F.
Great Rookie Award
Roger B.
Community Builder Award
Su D.

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Michael K.
Thank you to all of the Master Composter Recyclers. Because of you, Edmonton is a more vibrant and sustainable place to live and grow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Edmonton Celebrates 25 Years of Recycling

The City of Edmonton is celebrating 25 years of recycling and is thanking residents for their ongoing and enthusiastic participation in its three residential recycling programs.
“This anniversary is an important milestone, and demonstrates Edmontonians' dedication to the environment,” says Mayor Stephen Mandel. “We’ve come a long way in the past 25 years, and we are now world leaders in sustainable urban waste management.”

Mayor Mandel, Michael Recyle & kids with City Hall School
Edmonton was the first major city in Canada to implement curbside recycling, and since its inception in 1988 Edmontonians have set out enough recycling to form a convoy of trucks from Edmonton to Lake Superior, Ontario, a distance of approximately 2,500 kilometres.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Great Toilet Harvest of 2013

Our Composting Toilet opened for business in 2007, at the John Janzen Nature Centre. The toilet shows that we can compost even that stuff.

Visitors to John Janzen Nature Centre and the Compost Education Centre have been peacefully contributing ever since. On August 24th, seven compost fanatics met to harvest the Composting Toilet for the very first time.

Megan & Andrew getting composty

How it works

Wood chips get mixed with the "fresh compostables" - liquids and solids - in the toilet. Micro-organisms thrive on both types of nitrogen- and carbon-rich materials to break down the waste. Then the whole batch is gets stirred, regularly, to introduce new waste for the organisms.

We have been surprised by the Composting Toilet. Most of all, it's taken almost six years to have enough finished compost.

Adding the finished compost
Site when we were done

Harvesting the finished product

First, we dug a trench near our perennial plants - away from food crops. Next, we dug the trench again. This makes a trench that is doubly-deep.

Then we harvested finished compost and mixed it into the trench, along with some soil. Finally, we topped the trench with the layers of soil.

When finished, the compost amends the soil and encourages roots to develop deep. We made sure to keep this humanure compost away from food crops and away from contact with visitors.

Special thanks to those MCRs who helped with harvesting: Maureane D., Mary-Jo G., Hannah H., Andrew J. and Megan M. Our tireless organizer was Ella W., our compost educator extrordinaire (and summer staff).

Most of all, thanks to Mark S.
He has tended the Composting Toilet for more than 5 years. He is the first one to stir the "compostables" in spring. He preps the "catchment" at the end of fall. And he replenishes the wood chips and air fresheners in the dead of winter. Thank you, Mark.

More Info

Friday, September 6, 2013

Another hazard for waste collectors

Waste collectors face another workplace hazard in late August and early September: wasps.
Encounters between waste collectors and yellow-jackets increase during this time of the year, as wasps become more aggressive than usual. Some people can have very serious and even life-threatening reactions to wasp stings.
Residents can do several things to help minimize the number of collectors being stung while picking up the garbage, and also protect themselves from these pesky visitors.

Want tips to keep wasps away from your waste? click here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recycling Depots: No place for illegal dumping

They are often forgotten... probably because they are just so efficient.

Recycling Depots are a simple service that helps divert waste from landfill. Sadly, there are some troubles at our depots.

Simple and easy to use
There are 20 Recycling Depots across Edmonton. They are convenient locales to drop off paper and cardboard, plastic containers, aluminum cans, and glass bottles for recycling.

As the General Supervisor for Waste Drop-Off Services, Chris Fowler mentions that "Recycling depots provide an important service to the communities because residents and small businesses can drop their recyclable items 24 hours a day."

But Recycling Depots are not for dumping garbage. That's just plain illegal.

"We want to be able to trust people to use them properly and respect the bylaws so that we can maintain this convenient access," says Chris. "Recycling Depots are not designed to accept large items or household hazardous waste which can pose a risk for the staff and citizens who come in contact with it."
A sad example of illegal dumping at a Recycling Depot

Quick Facts

  • Materials collected (2012): 7,094 tonnes
  • Illegal materials (2013 thru July): 266 tonnes
  • Common types of illegal dumping:
    • reno materials
    • fridges & stoves
    • TVs & monitors
    • bikes
    • sofas & mattresses
Chris' staff visit each Recycling Depot on a regular basis. They tidy the site, ensure the right materials are in each bin, and remove items that should not be there. But dumping is a simple problem with a simple solution: don't.

The fine for illegal dumping is $250.

Items that cannot be sorted at a Recycling Depot should be taken to an Eco Station, a Big Bin Event, or the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. Visit for locations.

We need your help

Waste Management Services is working to reduce illegal dumping at Recycling Depots. The City will monitor depots and enforce bylaws.
If you see someone dumping at a Recycling Depot, please call 311 with details. If possible, note the date, time, location, and license plate of the vehicle.

Key Points

  • It is illegal to leave garbage, non-recyclable materials, and large items at Recycling Depots.
  • Recycling Depots are monitored for illegal dumping and offenders could receive a fine of $250.
  • The City has 20 Recycling Depots where residents and small businesses can take recyclable items such as: paper, shredded paper, boxes, cardboard, all recyclable containers and cans, plastic bags, and used cotton and denim.
  • Recycling Depots DO NOT accept furniture, tires, home renovation materials, mattresses, appliances, fridges and household hazardous waste.
  • Take these item to an Eco Station, the Edmonton Waste Management Centre or a Big Bin Event.
  • Residents and small businesses can drop off recyclable items 24-hours-a-day at Recycling Depots.
  • To report illegal dumping, call 311 with the details.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Edmonton and Ukrainian Province work on sustainable solutions to waste management

News from City of Edmonton's Waste Management Services

Edmonton's expertise in municipal waste management could soon benefit the western Ukrainian province of Ivano-Frankivsk.

Governor Mykhaylo Vyshayvanyuk, of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, and Mayor Stephen Mandel, City of Edmonton, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on August 14, 2013 for developing environmentally sustainable waste management in the Ukraine province.

click here to learn more

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The most common recycling question of all...

Public schools across Edmonton start recycling, this fall. Just like at home.

One of our most frequent questions is pizza boxes.
Well, here's the answer... and answers to more common questions about recycling. This will help anyone use a Blue Bag or Blue Bin. Keep the message positive and keep folks recycling!

Are pizza boxes recyclable?

Yes. If your pizza box has a few spots of grease, it’s no problem. But please put the sheet that the pizza sits on in the garbage.

Are chip bags and candy wrappers recyclable?

No. They should be put in the garbage.

Are all plastic containers recyclable?

Like plastic bags, there are many types of plastic containers. Some are recyclable and some are not. As long as they are clean, dry, larger than the palm of your hand and smaller than a basketball, then they are OK to go in the recycling bin. They will be sorted out at the recycling plant. The ones that do not get recycled will be converted to methanol or ethanol so there is no waste.

Are disposable cups recyclable?

Some are, but because there is such a wide variety it’s difficult to communicate to all residents which ones are and which ones aren’t. To simplify matters we ask that all of them be put in the garbage. They will be converted into compost or ethanol.

Isn’t shredded paper recyclable?

Technically, shredded paper is recyclable. However, because it’s fluffy like confetti it jams moving parts at the recycling plant and causes plant shutdowns. Please put it in the garbage. It will be composted.

What do I do with caps and lids?

Put caps and lids in the garbage.

Do I need to remove labels?

No. Labels are OK on all containers.

Isn’t Styrofoam recyclable?

Yes, Styrofoam is recyclable but due to the extreme lightness for its volume it’s difficult to recycle economically. The good news is that it won’t be wasted if it’s put in the garbage in Edmonton. Together with other non-recyclable or non-compostable waste, it will be converted
into methanol or ethanol.

Are zip lock bags and similar plastic sandwich bags recyclable?

There are almost countless different types of plastic bags. Some are recyclable and some are not. You can put any plastic bag into your recycling bin as long as it is clean and dry. They will be sorted out at the recycling plant. The ones that do not get recycled will be converted to methanol or ethanol so there is no waste.

How clean do containers need to be?

Well rinsed is sufficient. A small amount of residue is OK but anything more than that is unacceptable. If it’s difficult to get a certain container clean – peanut butter can be challenging – it’s alright to put it into the garbage. It will be converted into methanol or ethanol.

For More Info

Phone  311

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Peek Inside the 2013 MCR Summer Social

We spent Sunday with the sun,
the showers,
and fellow
Master Composter Recyclers.

Rodney took time to thank everyone that attended. He stressed that every conversation started around waste is a valuable way to contribute. It is a way to reach people who may not think about collectors when they set our their garbage, or understand how important it is to leave grass clippings on the lawn. Rodney also discussed feedback we've received about changing the name of the Master Composter Recycler program.

Some civilized folks chatting until the end of the day...

and then we let loose.

We had some young visitors.
Thanks to Heather S and Yoshie N for their hard work on the grill. The Bring-Your-Own-Salad bar was a colourful mix of beans, greens, reds, and yellows. Thanks to everyone who contributed from their garden and fridge. We would have gone home hungry without you.

We took a few photos for our website and brochures. Thanks to the photographer (Marlee U), artistic director (Mark SA), and subjects (Colleen, Chris, Kaitlyn, Kristin, Robyn, and more).

Future composters explore an Earth Machine compost bin. 
Colleen and Chris can teach you how to turn garbage into compost! 
Showing us how to use compost in planters. 
Thinking about our waste...
Heather and Ella sitting with the garbage from the Summer Social (both from planning the event and at the event itself). We always make an effort to reduce our waste but let's do even better next time! 
All in all it was a beautiful day. 
Thank you to everyone who join us (and all those who were with us in spirit).

Watch for the Volunteer Recognition Event on October 2!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stop to Chat with Ella

Ella is doing a fabulous job as our Summer Compost Educator. Folks can learn to compost by visiting the Compost Education Centre (JJNC) on Saturdays and Sundays. She will also be there on Fridays and Mondays. We asked her some questions to see what makes her tick:

What are you the most proud of from your work this summer?

Before I talk about what I’m proud of in this job, I would just like to say that I’m incredibly honoured to be working for the City of Edmonton. My colleagues in Waste Management Services are very dynamic and forward-thinking, and have not ceased to stretch and challenge me in new ways.
In terms of visible accomplishments, I am most proud of maintaining the garden and floral displays at the John Janzen Nature Centre - I can watch how plants grow with the help of compost, daily!

What kind of questions do you get from people who visit the site?

I get a lot of crazy questions at the Compost Education Centre, but some of the most common ones are:
  • How long does it take to compost something? This one is a bit tricky because people want a simple answer. However, as any experienced composter knows, it’s never the same! I usually tell people that it can take anywhere between three months and five years; it’s up to them how long it takes.
  • What is the best kind of compost bin to get? When I get this question, I begin my answer by asking some questions of my own about the amount of waste the visitor wants to compost, how much time they have to turn the compost, and whether they want it done quickly. All of these factors allow me to make a recommendation.
  • How do I get started? That one’s easy, because the answer is always the same: greens, browns, water, air!

When you visit the site, let us know if you do any maintenance work
in this log book. That way we can properly thank you for your time!

Check out this map to learn what Ella has planted around the site.
What’s your favourite story from your work with Mark?

It’s hard to settle for one specific Mark story (there are just so many), but there is one ongoing saga that comes up the most often: Mark’s love affair with lattes. Of course I enjoy lattes as well, so Mark and I will often get one while out running errands. Recently, things have progressed so far that Mark and I will try to interpret the colour patterns in the milk foam. Although it’s not quite like reading tea leaves, it comes close to it in artfulness and imagination.
Ella has lots of examples of worm composting to show visitors.
She also encourages picnickers to compost their food scraps. 

How many people have you spoken to at the Compost Education Centre?

According to our stats, I've spoken to over 450 people, so far, this summer.

Ella is very comfortable helping residents find
a way to compost that fits their lifestyle. 

Do you have any tricks to engage people walking by the site?

The key to engaging any guest is offering them something, be it an activity, a demonstration, or just some attention. The most effective way of bringing families in is to play a game with the kids or to offer an encounter with our Red Wigglers. Adults without children can be more difficult to engage, but if they have any interest in composting, it usually works to be friendly and approach them. I offer to answer questions and encourage them to interact with the compost bins we have on site.

Thank you to Ella for sharing your experience with us. Remember to stop by, and say hello to her this summer! As you can see, Ella is happy to answer questions.