Calgary Recycling

Calgary Condominium Food & Yard Waste

Condominium Food & Yard Waste FAQ

By | Calgary Recycling, Condominiums, Organics | No Comments

What Condominium Managers, Boards Of Directors & Residents Are All Asking

In preparation for the multi-family food and yard waste bylaws that will take effect on November 1, 2017 we have gathered our most commonly asked questions. We hope that these will help as you plan a program for your building and make your final preparations.

Calgary Food And Yard Waste | Little Big Recycling

What counts as “food and yard waste”?

Food and yard waste is also commonly referred to as organic waste. It includes anything that can be eaten, and anything that grows in nature. Food waste can be cooked or raw, and can include meat bones of any kind. Spoiled and stale foods can also be included. Yard waste includes leaves, branches, weeds, and grass clippings. For a complete list of what goes where refer to our guide: “What Can I Recycle?”

Calgary Food & Yard Waste Bylaws | Little Big Recycling

What are the actual bylaw requirements?

All multi-family buildings must provide on-site collection and storage of food and yard waste. Buildings must be equipped with enough containers to manage the volume of food and yard waste between collection days. All food and yard waste must be collected for composting or be diverted in some other way. All residents must be informed of the program and appropriate signage must be in place.

Property Manager | Little Big Recycling

Who is responsible for initiating and maintaining this program?

Building owners are responsible to ensure that their properties have a bylaw compliant program. In condominiums, the owners form a corporation represented by the Board of Directors. The corporation is ultimately responsible. In cases where there is a condominium or property manager the responsibility is often delegated to them.

Food And Yard Waste Collection

Who will collect the food and yard waste for composting?

This is where companies like Little Big Recycling come in. Owners and managers can work with a collection company or they can haul their own food and yard waste to an appropriate processing facility.

Excluded Yard Waste Items

Is yard waste accepted by all collection companies?

No. Not all programs allow yard waste to be mixed with other organic waste. This includes leaves, plants, weeds, branches, prunings, grass clippings, sod, and animal feces. There is usually no conflict as these items are handled and disposed of by the grounds maintenance service providers.

Under Sink Food Waste

How can residents manage their individual food waste?

The most effective way to manage the food waste from residents is to provide under-sink collection containers and bio-degradable bags to each apartment or suite. These are small plastic containers that can easily be put out of sight until needed. The biodegradable bags act as a liner and can be brought to the central collection point by each resident at their convenience.

Calgary Waste Diversion

What percentage of our current waste will be diverted as food and yard waste?

In 2014 The City of Calgary Waste & Recycling Services studied the composition of Calgary household waste. They found that 36% of household waste was organic food waste. This study applies to single-family homes, but the outcomes would be similar. We use 1/3 as a rule of thumb. More accurate information for your specific building can be obtained through a Waste Audit.

Calgary Waste Program Cost

How much does a food and yard waste program cost?

Prices will vary depending on the number of commercial and residential suites within your building. Contact us for a quote. There are significant savings that can be realized by combining all waste management services with one collection company.


Food Waste Smell

Does food and yard waste smell bad?

Yes. Food and yard waste will begin to rot and decompose over time, which causes an unfavorable stench. The good news is that this smell is no different than the one that you are already experiencing with your regular waste collection (because that is where the organic waste is currently going). Some buildings choose to separate their collection locations with the food and yard wastes outside the building.

Resident Information

How do we inform residents of the program and educate them on best practices.

This is another area where Little Big Recycling can help. We prepare a letter that can be delivered or emailed to each resident. They will be informed of the start dates, collection locations, and acceptable materials. When under-sink collection containers are provided to residents there should be additional instruction. A townhall meeting or information session where all owners are invited to attend is a great way to prepare the residents and address any specific concerns. The city requires that annual reminders be sent out to all residents and that appropriate signage be in place. Signage should include a description of what is accepted in each bin.

Recycling Bylaw Fines

What happens if a multi-family building does not comply with the bylaws?

The City of Calgary has indicated that their first step will be to work with building owners or managers to help them become compliant. Ultimately, the City can impose a fine for continued non-compliance.

Still Have Questions?

Send us your question and we will get back to you in no time!

Office Recycling Calgary

Office Recycling

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Recycling at work always seems to be less of a priority than recycling at home. It’s unfortunate because most people who work in an office spend half of their day there. Offices are big consumers of paper and paper products. Much of the paper used for printing is discarded within the same day. No one wants to hurt the environment, but sometimes during our busy days it is hard to think about the impact we are having. Here are some ideas to help take your office recycling to the next level:

Office Recycling Team

Assemble A Team

Get some green-thinking colleagues together and take on the challenge as a team. You will have a broader perspective and be able to implement a more practical program. Don’t leave it all to one person.

Waste Audit

Get To Know Your Waste

By the end of this year all Calgary offices will be required to divide waste into three sections: mixed recycling, organic waste, and garbage. Knowing how much you produce of each will help determine how to collect and store your waste. A waste audit will help you know what you are producing and how effective your current program is. You can dig around in the garbage, or hire a professional, to divide a day’s worth of waste into the three categories.

Office Recycling Traffic

Map Out Office Traffic

Consider where waste is being produced and identify optimal collection points based on office traffic patterns.

Office Recycling Bin

Make It Personal

Some offices have had good experiences with a centralized program that requires each employee to collect waste at their own desk in a designated bin and then deposit it at a centralized location. Employees become accountable at the individual level and are motivated to participate.

Office Communication

A Big Focus On Communication

Let everyone know about the program, and then let them know again. Education is a crucial element to the success of any waste management program. Make sure employees are aware of what can be recycled and what is considered organic waste. Use signage to encourage recycling and to identify recycling bin locations.

Cardboard Box Recycling

Collapse Your Boxes

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Collapse Your Cardboard Boxes Before Tossing Them In The Bin…

Really! Collapse those boxes! It’s easy. Not only does it leave more room in the bin for even more recyclables but it also saves a lot of hassle for workers too.
Cardboard Box Recycling

You’re busy, we get it. Between cheering on sports teams, trying out that workout from Pinterest, and soaking up the warm weather before another snow storm, there’s barely enough time to breathe! The good thing about collapsing a box is that it only takes roughly a minute from your busy day. It is so simple. Take an Xacto knife, just rip the tape off the box, or unfold it. You’re done in seconds!

The idea of juggling multiple flat boxes is scary… the fear of dropping something on the way to the bin is unbearable! Making two trips to the bin? Forget about it. It does seem appealing to toss all the smaller boxes into one big box and get all the cardboard out of sight.

Cardboard Box Recycling

What good does this do though? If anything it causes more work for everyone. Without collapsing your boxes, your bin will be overflowing before the next pick up day and workers will later have to collapse the boxes too.

Lack of collapsed boxes doesn’t only happen in the homes of Calgarians, but it also happens with businesses too! You just got a big shipment of stock, you’ve spent hours receiving it, and now you just want to go home. You want to toss them in the bin and clock out. If boxes from a residential area slow down the system, imagine how much all the boxes from a business will slow it down! Take the extra minutes to collapse the boxes, even if it means you’ll be home a minute later.

Unfortunately, workers don’t have all the time in the world to collapse your boxes. They are on a schedule. It might seem inconvenient to you but it is even more inconvenient to them if they have to collapse 20 boxes when they could be out doing their work. It slows the program down immensely. We’re trying to save a planet here!

Imagine if no one collapsed their cardboard boxes, there would be no room for any other recyclables.  Think about it… if everyone decided to collapse their boxes things would run smoothly and effectively.

We all have the common goal of making our great city greener. We should all do our part in working towards that goal, no matter how small it is!

Old Television

Electronic Recycling in Calgary

By | Calgary Recycling, Electronics | No Comments

Hey Calgarians… its time for us to have a talk… We noticed that many of you are NOT recycling electronics. We get that it is easier sometimes to just throw them in a dumpster, but the City has done a lot to make electronics recycling easy and even FREE. Did you know that there are multiple locations in each quadrant of the City that accept electronics at no cost? We pulled some information together for your from a few different City of Calgary websites to try and help out.

What Goes Where?

Here is a list of common electronic waste items that can be donated, recycled, or disposed of other than in a landfill:

cell phone recycling calgary

Cell Phones:

Cell phones that are in working condition can be donated. There are some great organizations including the Calgary Drop-In Center and the Canadian Diabetes Association that will accept cell phone donations. The Recycling Council of Alberta also lists a few other organizations.

Cell phones can be recycled free of charge at locations all over the city. There is a not-for-profit organization called Call2Recycle which is accepting cell phones and batteries in a recycling program designed to protect the environment.

CD DVD BluRay Recycling Calgary

CDs DVDs & BluRays:

Firstly, If anyone has a DVD copy of the movie Ice Castles (directed by Donald Wrye), our Business Development Manager, Tracey, is looking for one.

Secondly… these items are being traded and sold all over the internet and at second-hand stores throughout the city. It may be worth joining a buy & sell group on facebook, or you can make a donation to Value Village.

Please don’t get confused and put any of these items in your city or commercial recycling bins. The Recycling Council of Alberta lists some drop-off locations here.

Computer Recycling Calgary

Computers & Accessories

There is an organization called Alberta Computers For Schools (ACFS) that collects, refurbishes, and distributes used computers to schools throughout the province. Since they started in 1994 they have distributed over 200,000 computers. If your old computer is still in working condition, this is a great place to put it.

If your computer is too old or not working enough to be donated, the City of Calgary has electronic recycling depots set up throughout the city at private partner locations. CLICK HERE for a list of locations.

TV Recycling Calgary


Goodwill Industries in a non-profit organization that collects used items for sale at their thrift store locations. Funds that are raised go towards important programs and community events. If you have a TV in good working condition it can be donated to Goodwill Industries at any of their donation center locations.

If your TV is no longer usable then it can also be dropped off for free at the City’s electronic recycling depots.

Camera Recycling Calgary

Other Stuff


Other popular household electronics include video games, digital cameras, VCRs and DVD players, radios and stereos. Many of these items are being bought and sold via social media groups or second-hand listing platforms. If selling and trading online isn’t your thing then you can donate your items to a second-hand or thrift store. These items are not accepted at the City’s electronic recycling depots, but the City has provided a great tool to help you know what you can do. Check out before throwing anything in the garbage bin:

What Goes Where

Of course there are many more groups and organizations than those mentioned above that can help reuse or recycling your electronics. There is an Electronics Recycling Organization in Calgary that has a list of accepted items HERE.

Now that you have the information you can take your recycling one step higher and maybe even participate in a good cause at the same time. You can do it!

Calgary Recycling

Calgary Recycling – The Big Picture

By | Calgary Recycling, Recycling Super Heroes | No Comments

You may have heard about the multi-family recycling bylaw that took effect February 1, 2016 or the commercial recycling bylaw coming into effect on November 1, 2016 and thought “why are they doing this?”. Both of these new bylaws are actually part of a much larger plan for the City of Calgary to get closer to zero waste.

The Big Picture

Back in 2007 the City Council initiated a strategy to divert 80% of the city’s waste by the year 2020. The strategy included special tactics such as the blue cart program that rolled out in 2009 and the green cart (organics) program which was meant to roll out in 2010 but will actually come to pass mid-2017. Further tactics included more rules for garbage disposal, educating the citizens, and implementing “waste-to-energy” technology. In 2015 the strategy was revisited and a new target of 70% waste diversion by 2025 was set.

The Road to Zero

The goal of 70% waste diversion is actually an average of individual targets that were set for the four main segments of wasters:

  1. Single-Family Residential – 70% waste diversion
  2. Multi-Family Residential – 65% waste diversion
  3. Business & Organizations – 75% waste diversion
  4. Construction & Demolition – 40% waste diversion

Now you can see where the new bylaws come into play. The requirement for multi-family residential buildings and businesses and organizations to implement recycling programs this year is a crucial tactic that will increase the waste diversion in those two segments.

What Next?

We know about the single-family organics recycling “green bin” program that will be rolling out within the next couple years, but what other tactics will Calgary use to reach their goal? The official word from the city is:

“Once all the recycling and diversion programs are in place and all efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle have been explored, we plan to revisit the possibility of using waste-to-energy technology to deal with any left-over materials” (source: Leading Calgary To Zero Waste)

So the waste-to-energy idea from back in 2007 is still valid, we just need a viable option to become available.

Way To Go!

Calgary is very conscious of the environment and the impact we can have by diverting our waste. It is great to have leaders who care. Way to go Calgary for being a Recycling rising star!

Do Not Recycle

What NOT to Recycle!

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We talk a lot about what can be recycled and how you can do it, but it is important to take a step back and review some items that cannot be recycled. Some items are dangerous and can cause harm to recycling center employees. Other items can damage the environment. The following items should never be placed into a recycling bin and should be disposed of very carefully.

1. Needles

Needles need to be disposed of properly to ensure that no one gets hurts and diseases don’t spread. Home injection needles, like the ones used by diabetics, can be thrown in the garbage, but they have to be in a puncture-resistant container. The City of Calgary also has a needle safety program that includes safe needle disposal boxes for citizens to dispose of used needles.

2. Household Hazardous Waste

This category includes automotive chemicals, batteries, cleaning chemicals, paint, and fluorescent bulbs. All of these items can have harmful effects and should be disposed of properly. The City of Calgary has designated household hazardous waste drop-off sites around the city. Make sure that each item is properly sealed before dropping it off. For a full list of hazardous items and drop-off locations check out the City of Calgary’s website.

3. Pressurized Tanks

If you are a keener you may notice that this is also listed on the City of Calgary’s household hazardous waste list. We are listing it again to emphasize that pressurized tanks are dangerous and can cause harm if not disposed of correctly. There are cases where tanks have exploded in trucks or sprayed hazardous chemicals  on recycling center employees. Propane tanks up to 20 Lbs can be brought to the household hazardous waste drop-off sites, but there are also Throw ‘n’ Go facilities at city landfills that accept propane tanks and other special recyclable items free of charge.

Organic Recycling

The “Other” Recycling

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Recycling Skills

So we all know about mixed recycling… the magic Blue Bins that take our metals, plastics, glass and paper products to a happier place where they are eventually given new life. Calgary has a city-wide program supporting mixed recycling which makes it easy for each household to join in the fun. Condominiums and Commercial buildings are mandated to have similar programs, significantly increasing the popularity of mixed recycling. A mixed recycling program is a great way to divert waste from the landfills, but some of you may be wondering if there is more that can be done. Some of you have been in the recycling game for a long time and are now very skilled at rinsing your plastics, removing bottle lids, and organizing everything into segregated compartments. You have gained enough XP (“experience points”… for the old people reading this) to become proficient with mixed recycling, and are ready to take the next step toward becoming an all around recycling expert. Introducing the “Other” recycling!! ..or more commonly called “organics” recycling.

What Are Organics?

Organic waste can be anything that is derived from living material. This includes both plant and animal byproducts, which covers all of the following:

  • Any food item, cooked, raw, or waste
  • Yard waste like leaves and grass
  • Pet waste including fur and kitty litter
  • Other products like Popsicle sticks, cotton balls, Kleenex, etc…

This short list doesn’t sound like much, but it makes up over half of household waste. Can you imagine the impact on the landfills if over half of house-hold waste disappeared?!

How does it work?

Organic recycling programs will take all of this and turn it into usable compost material for gardeners or farmers. This involves taking the waste and heaping it up into giant piles that are constantly mixed. Some wood chips and hay are added to increase the nitrogen and carbon levels. Let the mico-organisms feast on it for a few months and bada-bing bada-boom, you have some nutrient rich compost. Imagine how many potatoes Matt Damon could have grown on Mars if he had some some of this (this is a pop-culture reference to the 2015 film “The Martian”).

Organic Recycling in Calgary

The City of Calgary started with a Green Cart pilot program for organic recycling in the communities of Abbeydale, Brentwood, Cougar Ridge, and Southwood. In May, 2017 the City will expand the program to all single family homes. As of November 1, 2017 all commercial buildings and multi-family residential buildings will be required to have an organics recycling program in place. There are plenty of opportunities to save the environment and reduce garbage disposal expenses with a fine-tuned program. Symons Valley Ranch is a great example of a fine-tuned program.

Level Up

So you think you’ve got what it takes? Step it up a notch with organics recycling and become a recycling super-hero.

Recycling Byproducts

What Does It Become?

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What Does It Become?

Do you ever wonder where your recycled items end up or what they will become? With a focus on sustainability many manufacturers are able to use recycled materials for a variety of different products. Here is a small list that we have compiled to give you an idea of how each material can be reused.

Recycled Aluminum


It is actually easier to use recycled aluminium than it is to make new aluminum. One of the most common household uses is as beverage containers. Many of your recycled pop-cans will go through recycling and be made into new pop-cans, but recycled aluminum can also be used for mechanical components in bikes, cars, and even jet-planes.

Recycled PaperPaper

Paper is another material that can be used over and over again through recycling. When it isn’t being made into new paper, it can be used to make things like cardboard and toilet paper, cat litter, and construction materials like drywall.


Recycled GlassGlass

Glass bottles and jars are recycled into new glass bottles and jars, but can also be made into fiberglass, which has many applications including insulation material for houses. The powdered glass that is produced through the recycling processed is also an ingredient in things like ceramic and bricks, and even has landscaping applications as a sand substitute.


Recycled PlasticPlastics

Recycled plastic is famous for being made into polar-fleece material. Some of the lesser known uses include carpet, artificial lumber, sleeping bag insulation, and playground equipment. Another great use for recycled plastic is making the recycling bins themselves.

Plastic Recycling

Plastic Recycling VS Garbage

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Knowing what can and cannot go in the bins will help maximize the benefits of your recycling program. It is important to know that not all plastics can be recycled through a recycling center. The American Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) developed an identification system to identify the materials used in different plastics and to help the recycling sorting process.

Polyethylene Terephthaline – This is a form of polyester that is found in most consumer sized plastic bottles. This includes carbonated beverages and things like salad dressing or shampoo.

High Density Polyethylene – This plastic is strong and versatile, but still light in weight. Common household products include grocery bags, milk-jugs, and bottles of laundry detergent.

Polyvinyl Chloride – Often times simply referred to as PVC this can be found in many household construction applications including pipes and windows.

Low Density Polyethylene – Commonly used for containers and as plastic bags. Another common use is plastic rings on a 6-pack of beverage cans.

Polypropylene – Common uses include Tupperware containers with many uses in laboratories and the medical industry. Famously used as the lid of a Tic-Tac container.

Polystyrene – This plastic also has many household applications including CD cases and disposable food utensils. It is also commonly produced as Styrofoam and can be used for fast-food take away meals.

Other Plastics – This category simply means that the plastic is not any of the six listed above.

Not all plastics have a number code included on them. In general, any plastic with a numbered symbol (# 1 – 7) can be recycled as part of a large-scale program. The big exception is polystyrene foam products including packing peanuts, cups, and food containers which are not accepted.

Plastic bags are often un-coded, but can still be recycled. For large-scale programs the rule of thumb is to try and stretch the bag. If the bag stretches, like a grocery bag, then it can be recycled in the blue bins. If the bag crinkles like a cereal box liner, then it cannot be recycled in the blue bins.