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Calgary recycling facts

Calgary Recycling Facts

Calgary’s Blue Cart program has been in place for over 10 years, helping Calgarians recycle over 600 million kilograms of material over this time.

Recent industry and global market changes have put pressure on our recycling programs. But we are committed to making sure the recyclables you put in the Blue Cart program continue to be ethically and environmentally recycled.

Know your Calgary recycling facts.


Making sure your Blue Cart recyclables get recycled

When you put your acceptable materials in your blue cart, you can be confident that these recyclables are actually getting recycled.

The City works closely with Cascades Recovery+ who sorts all of your recyclables to ensure they get turned into something new.

Cascades Recovery+ has processes in place to make sure recyclables go to legitimate recyclers and manufactures.

Before recyclables are sent for manufacturing, they check companies using:

  • Multi-layered reference checks on pulp mills, paperboard factories and packaging manufacturers.
  • In-person inspections before sending any sorted recyclables.
  • Third-party certifications for Cascades and manufacturers.

Did you know: In 2019, The City landfilled 2,000 tonnes of clamshell containers due to challenging markets. While a small setback, over 55,000 tonnes of recyclables are sorted and recycled each year from our programs.

85% of your blue cart recyclables are sorted and recycled. The other 15% is contamination (wrong items) that shouldn’t have been put in the recycling at all.


Where recyclables go

We take recyclables to the Cascades Recovery sorting facility in S.E. Calgary.

From there, our recycling items go to recyclers and manufacturers all over North America and around the world.

Ethical and environmental: We work with Cascades Recovery to make sure we know where sorted recyclables end up and how they will be used.

Did you know: Yes, clamshell containers are recyclable! Make sure you know what can go in your blue cart. See What Can Be Recycled.


Turning old products into something new

The recyclables you put in your blue cart get turned in to new products that you’ll find at the grocery store, at the mall, online shopping and other retailers.

Learn how your blue cart recyclables fit into the global manufacturing process.


Why recyclables are too good to waste

We live on a planet with limited resources and a growing population. Everything we buy and use has to come from somewhere. That includes plastic from oil, cardboard from trees, or pop cans from ore mining.

There is a huge environmental and social cost to extracting, manufacturing, consuming and disposing of all of these goods.

By recycling, we conserve vital resources by putting them back to use again. We also reduce pollution of having to extract, mine and process new resources.

Did you know: Calgarians recycle and compost more waste than is sent to landfill.


City of Calgary Cart Programs: By The Numbers

  • The paper and cardboard recycled through the Blue Cart program saves over one million trees a year.
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle tin cans and tin foil than to make it from raw materials like aluminum.
  • Every tonne of paper made from recycled material saves 28,000 liters of water.

What is shown in news articles like CBC Marketplace are not connected to Calgary's blue cart program and we plan on keeping it that way.


Valuable recycling, value for Calgary

Using Calgary’s three cart system is an important part of keeping our communities clean, protecting public health and managing our waste in a responsible and affordable way.

Conserving our valuable landfills

Calgary is lucky to have three landfills in city limits. Many other cities don’t have their own landfills and must pay to transport garbage long distances to dispose of it at privately-owned facilities.

Building a new landfill is a difficult and expensive process. Even if successful, it wouldn’t be nearly as close and convienent as our current landfills.

Our landfill space is limited and precious. That’s why keeping recyclables out of our landfills is important.

By using the black, green and blue carts at home, we have saved a generation’s worth of landfill space in Calgary.

With the introduction of the blue and green carts, black cart garbage has reduced from an average of 783 kg/household to 350kg/household – a whopping 50% drop!

How are blue cart fees calculated?

Your monthly blue cart program fee is not a “per-collection” fee but covers all aspects of running the program.

We provide service to over 330,000 households each week collecting over 55,000 tonnes of material each year.

The Blue Cart Program cost is offset by revenue generated by the sale of recyclables. This helps keep your fees lower.

A monthly fee is still needed because revenue from recyclables does not cover all the program costs.

Learn more about how your waste fees at Residential Waste Rates.


Want to know what items you can and cannot put in your Blue Cart?

If you are ever unsure about where an item goes, visit What Goes Where.


Reduce, reuse and repair your items as much as possible.

Some simple tips for reducing our waste needs:

  • Bring reusable bags to the grocery store or mall
  • Bring a reusable mug or water bottle to school or work
  • Donate unwanted items in good condition to charity

Contact your Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

EPR encourages manfacturers to design environmentally-friendly products. Under an EPR model, products are designed to manage their whole lifecycle: from creation, to use, to end-of-life.

We all have a role to play in recycling, especially manufacturers. Alberta needs an Extended Producer Responsibility policy to make manufacturers responsible for the packaging they create.