Improving our curbside services

For the past couple years, the City has been conducting surveys among Airdrie residents to gather feedback about our current curbside services (blue cart, green cart and garbage). When asked about top priorities or suggestions, many respondents expressed a desire to switch to an automated black cart system for garbage collection from our current manual garbage service, similar to how our current green and blue cart service works.

Review recommendations, provide your feedback

Following the November 2023 Regular Council Meeting, Administration is seeking additional input on proposed recommendations for an automated black cart garbage service.

The tabs below contain information about Administration's recommendations as well as considerations when thinking about making the change from manual to automated collection.

Please review the information and provide your feedback in our short survey on the

"Provide your Feedback" tab.

Your feedback will be shared along with Admnistrations's recommendations at a Meeting of Council later this year, anticipated in Q3 2024.

Complete the survey before July 1, 2024!


Recommendations

Based on public input and market research, Administration is recommending an automated black cart garbage collection service in Airdrie, with the following characteristics.

  • Automated collection

    Recommendation to switch to an automated collection service from a manual collection service. Changing to automated collection is anticipated to increase the cost of service by $1- 2 per billing cycle.

  • Cart size

    Recommendation to use one standard cart size for all households, similar in size to what is currently allowed.

  • Collection frequency

    Recommendation to maintain weekly collection service.

  • Excess waste

    Recommendation to maintain current tag system for excess waste, allowing a household to set out excess garbage next to the cart as needed by purchasing an excess waste tag.

  • Exemption programs

    Recommendation to maintain current diaper and medical waste exemption programs.

Provide your feedback

After reviewing the recommendations for implementation of an automated black cart service - please provide your feedback on those recommendations.

Considerations

Below are some considerations when thinking about changing from manual to automated collection.

  • Cost

    An automated garbage program is expected to increase your utility bill by approximately $1 - 2 per billing cycle. The increased cost is anticipated due to the cost to repair and maintain carts as well as repay the purchase of carts to the waste management reserve.

  • Collection frequency

    Your garbage would be collected once a week on the same day as the organics. It may be challenging to find space on the street or alley to place both carts out for collection.

  • Storage

    A third cart would need to be stored on your property.


  • Environment

    Cart collection could reduce litter from ripped garbage bags.

  • Employee safety

    Improvements for workers, reducing safety concerns (heavy bags, sharp material injuries, slips from ice or snow).

  • Reliable collection

    Having an automated system could reduce staff turnover from the physically demanding position.

  • Quicker collection

    Automated systems could be quicker to collect as waste would be placed consistently in the same container and not in varied bags and containers.

  • Curb appeal

    Using carts instead of bags that could rip could increase curb appeal while storage of multiple bins could reduce appeal.



Past public engagement

The City has been exploring a change to automated black cart garbage collection based on input received from residents over the last couple of years. See below for highlights of what we've heard.

2023 Survey results

2023 Survey questions and results

A five-question survey with a unique PIN was mailed to all households that receive curbside collection services and ran from May 23 to June 30. 6058 households completed the survey.

When presented to Council in November 2023, Council directed Administration to undertake more detail costing research, refinements to service design recommendations and public engagement on the recommended service design.

71% of respondents were very interested and somewhat interested in an automated black cart program while 29% were very disinterested or somewhat disinterested.

  • Cost: 53%
  • Collection frequency: 45%
  • Reduced diversion: 45%
  • Cart storage: 34%
  • Collection days: 27%
  • Cart set out: 18%
  • Other: 15%
  • Technical issues: 10%
  • Physical concerns: 9%
  • Noise: 5%

Respondents had an opportunity to enter other concerns they foresee with a black cart program. The most common concerns were:

  • not all households produce the same amount of garbage and feel a one size fits all program would not be equitable;
  • having to manage a third cart;
  • cart sturdiness.

The concerns of those who are overall interested (very interested and somewhat interested responses) were compared to those who are overall disinterested (very disinterested and somewhat disinterested responses) in a black cart program.


  • Litter reduction: 73%
  • Easier on collectors: 65%
  • Choose your cart size: 56%
  • Cost savings for a smaller cart: 48%
  • Curb appeal: 47%
  • Frequency of pick-up: 26%
  • Reliable service: 20%
  • Other: 8.5%

Other benefits of an automated program identified:

  • potential to reduce the amount of plastic sent to landfill by not placing multiple bags into one large bag;
  • a black cart would be easier and more convenient to store and set out garbage.
  • I/my family would be interested to try a smaller cart: 42%
  • A smaller cart with a lower cost option would help financially: 38%
  • A smaller cart and lower cost option would motivate us to reduce garbage: 23%
  • We're doing all we can to reduce waste, still need a larger cart: 22%
  • Want a larger cart even if it meant a higher rate: 22%
  • I have a large household a smaller cart won't work at a lower rate: 12%
  • Other: 12%
  • We use excess bag tags and would prefer a larger cart: 11%
  • I'm not sure: 10%
  • I have renters/a secondary suite: 2%
  • I/someone in my family has a medical condition: 1%

Respondents had an opportunity to provide additional feedback in the “other” portion of the question. The most common response was:

  • respondents felt they need to know the collection frequency to determine the cart size;
  • want to know if they would still have the option to set out irregular excess waste;
  • have concerns about diaper and medical waste.

The comments from this section echoed what was heard in the previous questions; the most frequent comment was about the challenges with the additional cost and the benefits of reduced litter because of an automated garbage program.

2022 Survey results

In 2022, Waste and Recycling, working together with Dr. Mourali of the University of Calgary, undertook a survey of Airdrie residents receiving curbside waste services.

The survey questions sought to assess barriers, habits and motivations for existing curbside programs and understand disposal practices and information needs and preferences.

The survey also allowed residents to provide open feedback on current programs and express their priorities for the department.

A key finding from the survey was that when asked:

Q: “If you were in charge of the department for Waste and Recycling Services, what would your top one or two priorities/changes be?"

  • 61% of respondents answered, "introduce an automated black cart program."

This finding led to the City of Airdrie undertaking a survey in 2023 specifically exploring interest in, variables to consider and preferences should a black cart program be introduced.