COVID Curbside Cleanup

While the pandemic brought a whirlwind of change and uncertainty to many, in one Alberta community it was the catalyst for new order thanks to a timely ARMA initiative.

“With the onset of COVID-19, we were uncertain how local recyclers and residents would be impacted,” says Ed Gugenheimer, Chief Executive Office of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA). “Our goal was to provide a safe and convenient option for those who were staying home and taking a moment to tidy up.”


In May, ARMA reached out to several municipalities proposing a curbside recycling blitz. The town of Olds was quick to jump on the opportunity to collaborate.


“We didn’t hesitate when the pilot was proposed,” says Scott Chant, Director of Operations. “The timing was perfect not only to help our residents but also to renew local interest in recycling.” The four-day pilot helped fill a void that had been left when the town’s transfer station wound down in in 2018.  Residents now go to the Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission Landfill to recycle their electronics, paint, tires and used oil materials.

With grant funding provided by ARMA, the town advertised the curbside recycling roundup in the local newspaper, on the radio and via social media. A third-party collector along with ARMA field staff were engaged to gather and transport the outpouring of no longer needed items to their next destination for processing.


Over the course of the blitz, residents were encouraged to leave electronics, old paint, used oil materials and tires next to their regular garbage bins for collection. The summer event, which was initially planned for three days, was subsequently extended to four after an overwhelmingly positive response.

“We understand that disposal of these items can sometimes be daunting,” says Gugenheimer. “Part of our role is building awareness about safe disposal options as well as the innovative uses for the resulting recycled products in our communities.  There were lessons learned from this pilot that we will review as we consider offering the curbside option in the future.”


The free event brought in a big haul with one full seacan of computer equipment and TVs, 10 totes of expanded electronics pilot materials, over 20 pick-up loads of tires, 16 full bins of old paint cans, and 4.5 totes of used oil and filters.


“Naturally we are delighted with the results,” says Michael Merritt, Chief Administrative Officer of the Town of Olds. “This was the perfect way to support our nearly 9,000 residents and as the first community in Alberta to partner with ARMA in this way, we’ve learned some valuable lessons that can help others reap the benefits of this great recycling initiative.”



Contacts for the Town of Olds
Terri Sperle, Grant Coordinator/Admin. Support, Community Services