If you find a note attached to your blue recycling cart, don't panic, it's not a fine.

The town has launched an audit of residential blue recycling carts that begins this month and will continue until the end of the year.

Similar to the last one completed in the spring of 2018, 10,000 blue carts will be checked. The audit assesses recycling contamination levels – items that should be in waste or organics carts – and educates residents on what is considered contamination.

Auditors will only inspect carts when out for collection. They do not remove items, and do not record personal details. They will lift the lid of the curbside recycling carts and look inside for contaminants.

The auditors will follow all Alberta Health guidelines and sanitize all touchpoints of the cart to reduce the potential risk of spreading COVID-19.

What has changed since the last audit is the rising cost the town will soon face for contaminated recycling loads. The recycling industry has been going through changes and rising costs for sorting contaminated loads of recycled materials. 

"The sorting facilities in Calgary are requiring for us to be extra careful in sorting our material, and for the content of the blue bin to be really clean and without contamination," explains Fabrizio Bertolo,  the town's waste and recycling manager. 

Under the town’s current collection contract, penalties for contaminated loads are rising to $300/tonne from $100 beginning January 2021.

The town estimates it could potentially increase costs by an extra $100,000 per year. Cochrane has a user pay system is in place and those costs would be passed along to users.

"So that's why we need to tackle this problem now before we start this contract in order to keep our fees at a reasonable level and not be required to increase fees for our residents."

Bertolo says there may be future audits to continue to be proactive in educating residents.

You can find more information here, or call the Waste and Recycling Hotline at 403-851-2277.