Recycling reduces our reliance on landfills, saves energy, conserves natural resources and reduces climate change impacts. Medicine Hat offers both a residential recycling program and bulk drop-off depots so you can do your part to protect our environment.

It is important to properly prepare your materials for recycling.


What is recycling?

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. For example, the morning newspaper can be recycled for another morning's newspaper or other paper-based products.

The recycling process involves three stages:

  1. Old products are collected and processed, where they are sorted, cleaned and made ready for recycling or manufacturing new products.
  2. The second stage involves the manufacturing of new products from the raw material obtained by the processing of the old products.
  3. Finally, the process ends when recycled goods are purchased by the consumers.

What materials can be recycled?

Many items can be recycled, though not all recyclable materials are accepted at each location. Some items that are accepted at the drop-off depots (like glass) are not accepted in your blue cart. Additional items (like paint or e-waste) that aren't accepted at either of those locations may be dropped off at the Waste Management Facility to be recycled or diverted.

Refer to the What Goes Where web-app or download the Recycle Coach App to your Apple or Android device to search all kinds of materials and learn whether they can or cannot be recycled.

We also recycle organic waste through our yard waste program.

What is made of recycled materials?

Items made of recycled material continues to increase. Today, virtually any paper product may be made of recycled fibers. Products made of recycled material are marked.

Low quality paper products such as cereal boxes, tissue and toilet paper almost always contain recycled fibers. Most aluminum cans and steel products contain recycled materials.

An increasing number of materials made of recycled plastics are now available in the marketplace, like:

  • Plastic lumber
  • Parking stops
  • Park benches
  • Carpets
  • Fiberfill
  • "Fleece" coats
  • T-shirts
  • Picnic tables
  • Playground equipment

Old tires are being repurposed and turned into sidewalks. The list goes on.

Who makes money on recycling?

Today, recycling is a big business. Recycling is expensive. Costs include collecting, sorting, baling and transporting the materials to a broker or mill, and then processing the materials to make them reusable.

The recycling market can be unstable, and sometimes the cost of providing the service can outweigh the price for which the goods can be sold at market. The actual cost of collecting the materials does not fluctuate much from year to year. It is similar to other fixed costs like the cost of collecting trash. However, the cost of processing materials so they can be sold to brokers or mills for end use fluctuates significantly. Prices are driven by market conditions in the broader economy and often influenced by foreign markets.

Regulations and partners

We operate recycling activities under the guidelines of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) and the ARMA E-Waste Pilot.

Recyclable materials from the blue carts and drop-off depots are collected by Green For Life Environmental (GFL). The materials are taken to the Medicine Hat transfer station, baled, transferred to GFL's Material Recovery Facility for sorting and then marketed appropriately.

Other recyclable materials accepted at the Waste Management Facility including paint, oil, HHW and e-waste are retrieved by a transfer company who transports the various materials for either safe disposal at the Swan Hills Treatment Centre or to be broken down and recycled into new products.