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Curbside Recycling and changes to garbage collection

In April 2017, single family homes in Airdrie will start receiving curbside recycling collection. Along with that, changes to garbage collection will be implemented including a reduction to one bag per week of garbage and a requirement that garbage is in a clear bag.

Why a clear bag?
Research shows it works! Research of other Canadian cities and towns has revealed that using clear bags results in a significant reduction in waste. Clear bags make people more aware of what is going into their garbage. The more aware and they are, the more likely they are to recycle. Airdrie has some super recyclers and we have people who recycle nothing. This program is aimed at getting all residents on board with recycling as much as we can because when recyclable material is removed from the garbage, it costs less and is better for the environment.

Increased safety of collection contractors
Another key motive for implementing a clear bag program revolves around worker safety and -protecting the collector from cutting themselves on sharp objects such as broken glass or needles. With a clear bag program, the collector is able to conduct a quick visual assessment of the contents within the clear bag(s) to ensure that no recyclables, organics or hazardous items such as oil, paint, pharmaceutical products or corrosive wastes are in the bag. Hazardous items should continue to be disposed of at secure hazardous waste disposal facilities such as the Eastside Recycle Depot.

What about privacy concerns?
Residents will be permitted to use one privacy bag (20cm x 20cm) within their clear bag. Multiple opaque bags can be placed in the one privacy bag This allows residents to shield material that they would prefer not be exposed for view. When all recyclable and organic material is removed from the waste stream, very little is left for waste. Residents certainly have the option to place the clear bag inside a garbage can at the curb.

Why were these decisions made?
Several factors were considered when contemplating the one bag, clear bag initiative including:

Currently, Airdrie’s waste is hauled to the City of Calgary landfill for disposal. In February 2016, the City of Calgary implemented higher fees for any loads of waste that contain paper or cardboard. The next step which will occur in the fall of 2018, is an outright ban with financial penalties for loads containing paper and cardboard.

The City of Airdrie was granted an exemption from these increased fees to allow us time to put diversion programs in place, however, the exemption will be withdrawn in 2018. If the City achieves the goal of diverting banned material (paper and cardboard) from the waste stream, the City will realize a 65% savings on disposal waste fees.

The next items on Calgary’s Designated Materials list to remove from the waste stream is food and yard waste. The City of Airdrie’s Organics program already provides residents the opportunity to be in compliance with this ban. Again, higher waste disposal fees (65%) will be incurred should organic material be in loads brought to Calgary landfill. The ban on food and yard waste is expected to be in place by fall of 2019.

In order for the City of Airdrie to meet the requirements for the lowest available landfill rate, we must eliminate paper, cardboard and organics from our residential waste stream. The curbside recycling program together with the Eastside Recycle Depot provides an opportunity to remove virtually all recyclable material from our residential waste stream.

Why one bag a week?
Since 1992, Airdrie has been seen as a leader in waste management. Airdrie was the first community to implement a user-pay garbage system and introduced a 2 bag waste limit in 1998. By providing residents with the means to divert recyclable and organic material through curbside collection programs and introducing the clear bag program to ensure materials are in fact being removed, it is expected that the waste volumes will be significantly reduced. Residents will still be able to purchase up to 3 additional bag tags per week at $3/tag and those additional bags will still be required to be clear.

Clear bags can be up to a maximum size of 66cm x 91cm and up to 25kgs and waste collection will remain weekly.

Where can I buy clear garbage bags?
The City will work with local retailers to ensure a wide variety of clear bags are made available for purchase. Both clear plastic and opaque (black) plastic garbage bags are manufactured from the same type of plastic resin. The only difference between clear and coloured bags is the dyes which have been added. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) should be equal between the two products.

What do I do with my black garbage bags?
You have one year to use up the black garbage bags you have now as the program will become enforceable in January of 2018. In other communities, residents have been encouraged to donate their opaque bags to friends/family not in a jurisdiction requiring the use of clear bags or donate left over product to churches, schools, businesses or organizations not under a similar program.

For residents already doing their best to divert - thank you! This program should make no difference for you except for the colour of bag you use. This program is intended to increase participation from households that do not presently recycle and/or compost and make it perhaps a more convenient process.

Why is the City not offering a black cart like Calgary does?
Our research has shown that by offering a large black cart like Calgary does, we would not see the significant reduction in waste we expect to see when we reduce to one clear bag.

Multi-family recycling is coming to Airdrie!

The City of Airdrie is committed to increasing waste diversion. Our current organics program and the upcoming curbside recycling program are set to make a big impact on our efforts and we look forward to further diversion opportunities by ensuring multi-family properties have access to recycling as well.

The City will be amending the current Waste Bylaw and making it mandatory for all multi-family residential buildings currently not receiving City of Airdrie curbside waste collection services to have a recycling program in place by January 2018.


Where does it go?


Use of recycling facilities

City of Airdrie recycling facilities including the Airdrie Transfer Site are subsidized* through an environmental fee paid by Airdrie and Rocky View County residents (additional fees apply at the Transfer Site.)

*Business use of our facilities is not permitted as businesses do not contribute to this funding.

What do we do?
Waste & Recycling Services provides residents with options for managing their eesidential/household waste through services and education, considering environmental, social and economic impacts.

The department is responsible for:

  • residential garbage collection
  • residential organics collection
  • operation of the Eastside and Westside Recycle Depots
  • operation of the waste transfer site
  • coordination of Multi-family Recycling Education Program
  • education specific to waste diversion and recycling
  • various other events and initiatives
  • Eco Edge Awards, Eco Art Awards, Eco Youth Awards

Contact us

P. 403.948.0246

F. 403.948.8819


Eastside Recycle Depot
21 East Lake Hill
Airdrie, AB T4A 2K3
Westside Recycle Depot
2925 Main Street
Airdrie, AB
Transfer site
Seven km west on Highway 567, next to the rodeo grounds.