Some big changes are coming to Strathcona County's waste management program.
The county is in the process of adapting its recycling program to changes in the global marketplace. While products in question won't be turned away until Sept. 10, Strathcona County is trying to get residents into the right routines as soon as possible. 
"The biggest change that we've made to our program was introduced in June and it impacts the blue bag program," said Leah Seabrook, manager of waste management services at Strathcona County.
"We've had to ask residents to remove some materials that are no longer marketable. This includes things like plastic packaging, flexible plastics, styrofoam, as well as a few other items that tend to be collected in the blue bags like glass or the nonrefundable Tetra Paks. But we can still recycle them, we just have to ask residents to bring them to our depots where they need to be collected seperately."
The most confusing issue for residents so far has been organizing their plastics, according to Seabrook. Plastics are being defined mostly by their texture, with only harder plastics being accepted after the changes are implemented.
"Things that are in, for example, are your hard plastic containers and bottles," explained Seabrook. "Like your ketchup containers, your detergent bottles... the stuff that's out is anything that can kind of be squished by hand. So, that might be your plastic clamshells or grocery bags." Lids from any containers will also be garbage when the compliance date hits.
Another big concern among residents has been the question of space in the black cart for the items that are no longer being accepted.
"We're just asking residents to take the time to understand that a lot of the material that's coming out of the blue bag that's no longer recyclable is lightweight material and it can be easily compactable," said Seabrook. "We feel as though there is room in the back cart and we know that there are other improvements that can be made to the black cart in terms of making sure that all the organic material is diverted to the green cart."
Outside of ensuring that trash is properly sorted, residents are also being encouraged to check with local retailers about take-back programs for plastic packaging. Another important recycling rule that residents often forget, according to Seabrook, is to ensure that their recyclable materials are free of food, dirt and other contaminants.
"There is a hierarchy in the recycling world. There are three R's and this is just a little reminder to all of us to focus on those first two, which are actually reduce and reuse. We're really encouraging residents to look at ways that they can reduce the amount of plastic packaging that they purchase, making sure that they take reusable bags and coffee mugs and that sort of thing."
Residents can find more information on Strathcona County's website. Utilities Services is also offering a personalized review of resident waste routines and can be reached at 780-449-5514.
Fort Saskatchewan implemeted similar changes in early June. 

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