Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to: Waste-less Holidays

The Holiday season is filled with decorations, parties and presents -- these can create a lot more waste, but it doesn't have to be that way!

The City of Edmonton wants residents to think about the environment at this time of year. We can all do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.  Let's make 2015 a Waste-Less Holiday.

Check out videos from Dave Claus and find out about the holiday collection schedule at

Got a favourite Waste-Less Holiday tip? Share them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #WasteLessHolidays.

Some Helpful Tips for Holiday Clean-Up:
  • Recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and/or glass bottles and jars, and aluminium (cans and trays). These go in Blue Bags, Apartment Blue Bins, or brought to a Recycling Depot.
  • Have cardboard boxes? Flatten and put them in your Blue Bag. Large flattened boxes should be placed neatly under your Blue Bag(s).
  • Make your garbage light and sized right. Keep garbage bag/cans under 20kg (44lbs), and use the right type of can (maximum size 100 L, with fixed handles and no wheels). 
  • Keep your collectors safe. Package and label sharp objects (like broken glass), and keep a clear path to your trash (especially in snowy/icy conditions).
  • Take broken lights, electronics, and anything with a cord or battery to an Eco Station. 
  • Styrofoam goes in your garbage.
  • Recycle your tree. The City of Edmonton will collect natural Christmas trees starting on January 12, 2016. Trees will be picked up for recycling within three weeks of this date, but not necessarily on scheduled days for waste collection.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Movie Review by MCR Suzanne L.: Just Eat It

This food waste movie is the personal story of Jen and Grant, a couple who embark on a mission to see if they can live six months only eating food waste.

Their plan seems gross and impractical, at first. Shortly into the movie, they show you not only how possible this is, they also expose the fractured and wasteful nature of food production and distribution in North America.

This movie uses fascinating research, industry specialist interviews, and humour to highlight the fact that as a society, we take food for granted. At the conclusion of this movie, I had a new inspiration to use the food in my own fridge before it goes bad. I also gained new respect for the process that brought it to my kitchen.

Watch Just Eat It: A food waste story on demand (pay per view) - visit

Watch the Trailer

Interview Clip, 2014 Edmonton International
Film Festival

MCR Suzanne L. completed the MCR Course in 1998. She is still passionate about reducing waste and stays involved with the MCR Program. Suzy and her husband once ran an experiment to measure all their household garbage throughout the year. Suzanne is also the author of Composting for Canada.

Have you watched a waste documentary lately?
Share your movie review. It's a great way to...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Compost Tribute to Service & Sacrifice

In June, 2015, Edmontonians laid hundreds of flowers at police stations and memorials in honour of Constable Daniel Woodall. Following the funeral services, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) searched for a respectful way to deal with these tributes.

So began a unique project of service, sacrifice, and compost.

Lorraine Cramer, Public Affairs Supervisor for EPS, explains that "Edmontonians offered a visible show of support for the Woodall family, leaving flowers as a mark of respect at police stations across the city. We thought that composting them and using that compost would be a special way to acknowledge these offerings."

EPS staff collected the mass of flowers and delivered it to the Compost 'S cool - a compost education site at John Janzen Nature Centre.

Sheridan Sigstad, Compost Educator for the City of Edmonton's Waste Management Services, helped mix the flowers with other organics in a designated compost bin and watered them. The bin was marked with a blue ribbon to fit with the Blue Ribbon Campaign.

"Throughout the summer, volunteers and visitors at Compost 'S cool saw our bin with the blue ribbon, and we explained its significance. Then we asked them to help by watering, fluffing, and contributing other greens. It was nice to see this process because hundreds of volunteers and visitors got to contribute to this memorial," said Sigstad. "I think they felt honoured to be part of this project."

The three bags of finished compost were presented to Sergeant Steve Sharpe at Police Headquarters in downtown Edmonton.
Presenting the special bags were Mark Stumpf-Allen, the City's Compost Programs Coordinator and volunteer Aurea S. - a Master Composter Recycler.

The Edmonton Police Service intends to use the finished compost as part of memorial services in the future.

Sgt. Steve Sharpe received the finished
compost at Police Headquarters.

See also: In Memory of Constable Daniel Woodall

A Special Compost Recipe

The bouquets were mostly stems and boughs. Extra materials was added to encourage quick decomposition over the summer.

Shredded leaves filled spaces and held moisture, while fresh greens like fruit peels and grass clippings fed the bacteria to get the process working.

Water helped the bacteria flourish, while fluffing added oxygen to keep the bin smelling like forest soil after rain.

How to Host a Wasteless Office Holiday Potluck

It's the middle of November. That means it's the time of the year for office holiday parties - and many of them will be potlucks.

With that, the inevitable waste will follow: paper cups, plastic utensils, disposable dollar store decorations, store-bought food in disposable plastic packaging, leftover Timbits, and more...
But with a bit of planning and these handy tips, your office party can be different!
  • TIP 1: Ask someone to bring in cloth napkins, dishes, or cutlery from home.
    It's good for the environment, and someone will be happy to do that instead of cooking.
  • TIP 2: Ask someone to bring holiday decorations from home.
    Avoid buying last minute decorations from the dollar store. Decorations borrowed from home will be much more beautiful, and nothing will be wasted!
  • TIP 3: Ask someone to make punch in a large bowl.
    Avoid individual juice boxes or cans of pop. Iced tea or hot chai are other good options that can be made in large quantities, and served in carafes or pitchers, without creating waste.   
  • TIP 4: Allow everyone to opt out of cooking for a small fee ($10).
    The person in charge can buy extra food if necessary. If there's money left over, it can be donated to a charity. Most of the time, there is too much food anyways!
  • TIP 5: Ban store-bought contributions.
    Between Tips 1-4 and cooking something, everyone should be able to find a way to contribute without creating waste.
Do you have other tips for creating less waste at holiday parties? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

MORE Solar-Powered Waste Bins in Edmonton

The City introduced four new solar-powered waste bins, in September 2015.
Credit: Shaughn Butts,
Edmonton Journal (October, 2012)
About the size of a mailbox, these Bigbelly waste bins are an exciting addition to Edmonton streets. They:
  • automatically compact waste inside
  • send a message to Collections staff when full
  • are self-powered by solar panel on top
  • eliminate wind-blown litter
  • have side panels for promotion
Five of these bins were unveiled in October, 2012, and have performed well.

The bins compact the waste inside. They can hold up to five times the waste of a standard litter basket. Then the bin send a message to staff when it is full. This means fewer vehicle trips to empty the bins AND avoids overflowing bins.

That works out to excellent savings over the bin's lifespan. These are a good solution for locations with lots of pedestrian traffic.

Bigbelly waste bins on Whyte Avenue. (September, 2015)
Check out this demo.
Note: Versions in Edmonton do not have cigarette containers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Turn Them In: A Successful Campaign

Edmonton's Kennedale Eco Station opened in the northeast of the city on March 31, 2015. With this addition, there is now one Eco Station in each quadrant of Edmonton. Visit to find one in your area.

The opening provided a great opportunity to remind Edmontonians of what items to take to the Eco Stations and how to use them. We launched the Turn Them In campaign, which focused on the disposal of household hazardous waste. The campaign reminded residents that items like cleaning chemicals, batteries, motor oil, light bulbs, and paint should never go in the garbage, and that they are FREE to drop off at the Eco Stations.

In partnership with Global TV, the City of Edmonton challenged Edmontonians to reach 30,000 Eco Stations visits in 30 days. The challenge was a success, with 30,447 visits between April 11 and May 12! The new Kennedale site claimed a whopping 7,699 of those visits.

"Turn Them In" combined internet and television ads to get the word out, including this ad, which aired on several networks, such as Global, CityTV, and OMNI (plus some US channels through Shaw).

"Turn Them In: Hidden Horrors" won a Telly award for excellence in commercial videos and online content.

Our favourite new mascot, Battery Newman, also received a Telly Award for online content.

CityTV also produced a mini documentary about Eco Stations, called Eco City. It features interviews with several employees of Waste Management Services, who clear up some mysteries about what to take to an Eco Station and what happens once you Turn It In.

Overall, visits to Eco Stations increased by 20 per cent (compared to April and May, 2014). On a city-wide scale, that translates into a huge amount of waste diverted from the landfill.

Way to go, Edmonton!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Art at Kennedale Eco Station

Next time you’re dropping off your waste at the new Kennedale Eco station, expect to experience more than just convenience and great service.

Five pieces of artwork were recently installed at Kennedale Eco Station. Brandon Blommaert, the artist who designed the artwork for Ambleside Eco Station, used a similar concept at Kennedale by montaging hand made sculptures with actual landscapes. Brandon collected discarded and reusable objects to build the sculptures, then paired them with landscapes from various places around Canada.

These art installations are part of the City’s Percent for Art program where one per cent of the construction budget of any publicly accessible municipal project is allocated for art.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Composting at The Sunshine Community Garden

MCRs are "community leaders in waste reduction." Here is Jocelyn C's report about setting up a compost system at her community garden -- along with students from a local junior high school!  

"Although I was not yet an MCR in 2014, I was already a composting devotee so I took on the task of planning our community garden’s composting system. The Sunshine Garden (or Fulton Place community garden) was designed in 2014 and built in May 2015. 

To get ideas for placement and design, I first called the City of Edmonton’s compost hotline and asked Mark Stumpf-Allen to come to a garden meeting in May 2014 to answer our community garden composting questions. In July 2014, I also took part in the Sustainable Food Edmonton community garden bike tour, which really helped me get an idea of the different approaches these gardens took to collecting and harvesting compost.

During the tour, I was especially impressed by the composting system from the Rio Terrace Community Garden, so we went ahead and copied its 3-bin design by buying these brackets from Lee Valley. Using Mark’s advice, we placed the composting system in an area sheltered by two lilac trees, and placed signage along the bin that has the most active pile to protect it from drying. 

We installed the compost bins in May 2015 during a work bee that we had organized with the nearby junior high school – 90 grade 8 & 9 students from Hardisty School came to the garden site to help build the garden. Every screw that holds our composter together was drilled by a junior high student! The students were really keen to learn about composting and asked many great questions. 

Now that our first garden season is coming to an end, we have been thrilled by the amount of nearly finished compost we have already produced (half of a cubic yard)! Our three-bin system is working well for us. We have the gardeners input their clippings into one bin, which are mixed with browns to prevent smells and to balance the composting reaction. The middle bin is where the nearly finished compost can cure without a continual input of greens. The finished compost ends up in the third bin, so the gardeners can add it to their garden plots as needed. We turned the bins over in August, and will do it again in the spring." 

Learn more about The Sunshine Garden, visit the website or facebook group.

How does your community garden compost?
What are the successes and challenges?

- - - -
Jocelyn C. became an Master Composter Recycler in 2015.
She has been an enthusiastic volunteer. Jocelyn has set up her Free Tables at her workplace, created this "Compost Mentor Lives Here" sign, and presented about urban bees at the 2015 MCR Summer Social.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrating Volunteers... at the Zoo!

Over 120 volunteers gathered at the Edmonton Valley Zoo on Thursday evening.
Fall colours at sundown - the setting was spectacular.
This was the annual Volunteer Appreciation Event in honour of Master Composter Recyclers and Reuse Centre volunteers. Folks enjoyed a bbq and toured the zoo grounds.
There were burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, salad, and a wide range of desserts.

And the food was good too... according to these smiles!
Councillor Michael Oshry brought greetings and thanks from City Council.
"Your volunteering provides excellent waste management services to Edmontonians," Leo Girard - Manager of Waste Management Services.

Four recent MCRs received special recognition for reaching their milestones of volunteering.

Touring around the Valley Zoo.
MCR Michael K. and family.
Hanging out at the Beaver Lodge.

We enjoyed animal talks about birds of prey and reindeer.
Zookeeper duties include walking reindeer on leashes

Kid duties include...making the world your playground (mission accomplished)!
Edmonton Valley Zoo makes a big effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Check out their Green Team.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Amazing Race Canada... is on its way to Edmonton!

The Edmonton Waste Management Centre will be featured on the next episode of The Amazing Race Canada.

WMS Contract Administrator Clayton S. with host of The Amazing Race Canada, John Montgomery, at the Materials Recovery Facility.
Fans of the popular TV show will get a chance to see their favourite teams fight for their spot while looking for clues and finding their way through Edmonton in an episode airing on Thursday, September 17 at 8 p.m.

Competitors will face tough challenges which include choosing between a difficult task at the Materials Recovery Facility or the GEEP facility.

"It was a lot of fun helping develop the challenges," states WMS Contract Administrator Clayton Sampson. "They showcase the demanding and awesome work we perform on a daily basis at the EWMC."

For more information about the show please visit The Amazing Race website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Celebrating Summer with MCRs

Thank you for joining us on August 18th for the MCR Summer Social:
"The Birds & the Bees.... and the EWMC."

One of our largest MCR socials in recent years!

60 volunteers and guests enjoyed stories about backyard chickens, beekeeping, and updates from the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

Special thanks to MCRs Neil B., Rena C., and Jocelyn C. They had fun tales to tell.

Congratulations to several MCRs who have completed over 35 hours of MCR volunteering. They received books, certificates, and their official MCR name tags!

Welcome to the club. They join a distinguished group of Edmontonians.

Want to Learn More?
Check Out These Videos