Frequently Asked questions: Stewardship Programs

What happens to the recycling fees that I pay when I buy a new computer, a can of paint, a set of tires or a container of automotive oil?

Environmental fees charged on the sale of eligible electronics, paint, tires or oil materials help fund the cost to collect and recycle these materials as well as research and development, and public awareness of the recycling programs.

Are Alberta Recycling's programs impacted by restrictions imposed by China on recyclable materials?

Tires

What is recycled?

Almost every type of tire can be recycled in Alberta. The most common are those found on your car or truck. However, Alberta’s tire recycling program includes off-road tires and specialty tires that are used on construction and industrial equipment. The six million tires Albertans discard every year are diverted from landfills, made into shred or crumbs, and put to good use once again as new products.

Are all tires in Alberta recycled?

All vehicle tires, as well as construction, industrial, and off-the-road tires are recycled right here in Alberta.

How are tires processed?

The scrap tires are picked up from tire shops, vehicle dealers, automotive repair shops or municipal collection sites (recycling depots) across the province by the registered tire processors. The tires are run through a shredder, which is the final stage of processing for almost half the scrap tires generated in a year, and the other half of the tires are processed into crumb rubber.

What do the tires become?

Recycled scrap tires are turned into:

  • Tire-derived aggregate (TDA) that is used as a drainage material in municipal landfills, replacing expensive washed rock
  • Playground surfaces
  • Sidewalk blocks, matting products and roofing tiles
  • Mulch for landscaping
  • Whatever innovative Albertans will think of next!
I have a large number of old tires, who should I contact to collect them?

You can normally take your tires to a collection site near you—use our Depot Finder—however, you can contact your local 4-H Alberta who will collect old tires and electronics from farms, acreages, and residences. You can also contact one of our registered processors to arrange a pick-up if you have a large volume of tires—typically 100 or more.

Can I recycle bicycle tires?

Yes. Since 2007 bicycle commuters and casual cyclists have been able to recycle their used bicycle tires at a number of locations throughout the province. “Bike tire cages” have been set up in the parking lots of various sporting goods stores, cycle shops or recycling depots.

Where do I recycle my bicycle tires?

A list of locations accepting bicycle tires is available on our Bicycle Tire Recycling page.

How is tire recycling going in Alberta?

Albertans are champion recyclers. In 2016 we celebrated the recycling of 100 million tires. To date, 144.5 million tires have been recycled, that’s enough to wrap around the equator more than five times!

How much does it cost to buy a recycled tire product such as sidewalk blocks?

Please refer to the list of processors for product information.

Is there a grant program to buy recycled tire products?

Please visit Municipal Grant Program for an update on the grant program.

I purchased tires in the United States. Do I have to pay the Alberta environmental fee?

Yes. The tires brought in from other countries will one day be recycled as part of Alberta’s tire recycling program and are subject to the same environmental fee charged on every new tire in Alberta.*

*Tires with a rim size less than 8 inches (20 cm) are exempt.

DOES ARMA SUPPORT THE REUSE OR RESALE OF TIRES?

ARMA does not provide any support, financial or otherwise for the reuse, supply or sale of used tires. Further, ARMA does not endorse or recommend the collection, sorting, culling or grading of used tires for reuse, supply or resale. Due to the unknown condition of used tires, the reuse, supply or sale of used tires poses significant risks of tire failure that may result in damage, loss, bodily injury or death. ARMA disclaims any and all liability for any damages, losses, injuries or death arising from the reuse, supply or sale of used tires.

Paint

What is recycled?

Latex and oil-based paint, varnishes and stains as well the containers they’re packaged in—metal and aerosol cans and plastic pails. Click here to see the complete list.

How is paint processed?

Alberta’s registered Paint Processors pick up the paint from municipal collection sites and businesses across the province and take it to their facilities where it is separated and packaged for shipment. Processing of paint and paint containers is handled by downstream processors approved by Alberta Recycling.

What does it become?

Latex paint is recycled into usable paint, the majority of it processed and then sold right here in Alberta for environmentally conscious purchasers. Oil based paint is most often used in fuel blends to provide alternative fuel sources. Aerosol containers, paint cans and plastic pails are recycled as metals and plastics.

How is paint recycling going in Alberta?

Albertans are doing a great job at it. To date, 33.9 million litres of paint recycled since the Program started in 2008.

Why is it important for Albertans to recycle this material?

First and foremost, certain paints contain chemicals that pose a threat to the environment. And secondly, leftover paint can be turned into new paint and the metal and plastics containers are recycled into new products.

How are the paint and the cans recycled?

The paint is sorted into latex and oil. Latex paint is recycled into usable paint, the majority of it processed and then sold right here in Alberta for environmentally conscious purchasers. Oil-based paint is most often used in fuel blends to provide alternative fuel sources. Aerosol containers, paint cans and plastic pails are recycled as metals and plastics.

Can paint cans be recycled even if the paint itself is dried up or the can is empty?

Yes, the metal and plastic cans, including spray paint cans, can be recycled as well so make sure not to throw them in the garbage but take them to your nearest paint recycling depot.

Where can I get more information about buying recycled paint?

Check with Renue Recycling in Calgary for a list of distributors of ecocoat paint.

Used Oil

Why are Environmental Fees changing?

When ARMA assumed responsibility for the Used Oil Program in October 2018 after the dissolution of the Alberta Used Oil Management Association (AUOMA), the program was facing significant financial sustainability challenges. Since then, ARMA has been working diligently with collection sites, recyclers, and Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) on solutions to the ongoing challenges of the Used Oil Program.

With input from key stakeholders (including registered processors), an environmental fee adjustment was identified as an urgent need to support the sustainability of the collection, transportation, and processing network for the industry. These environmental fees have not been updated since 2011 and will align Alberta’s fees with those currently being charged by other jurisdictions across Canada. The adjustment will allow the program to provide increased support to the recycling activities of registered processors, municipal collection sites, and Indigenous communities.

What if I have large quantities of used oil materials?

If you or your business have larger quantities of used oil, filters, or containers, e.g., more than the quantity allowed by your local collection site, which is often 20 litres of oil or 20 oil filters, please contact a local Registered Processor to arrange collection.

What is recycled?

Lubricating oil, e.g. automotive oil, oil filters, and oil containers.

How is it processed and what does it become?

High-quality used lubricating oil, e.g. automotive oil, is re-refined into new lubricating oil. Lower-quality used oil is processed into a fuel that can be used by pulp mills, cement plants, asphalt plants, and other industrial applications.

Oil filters are crushed (with the residual oil captured) and processed by a metal recycler for manufacturing into construction materials such as rebar and pipe.

Plastic oil containers are pelletized and used as feedstock for products such as new containers, guardrails, fence posts, and railway ties.

Where can I recycle used oil materials in Red Deer?

Stay tuned to our What’s New page for updates on the dates of Recycling Events in Red Deer.

Does the program recycle cooking oil?

No, Alberta’s used oil materials recycling program exclusively helps fund the collection and processing of lubricating oil, e.g., engine oil, oil filters, and oil containers only. Please consult with your local municipality on how to safely handle cooking oil, fats, grease, and other household waste.

What are used oil materials recycled into?

High-quality used lubricating oil e.g. automotive oil can be refined into new oil. Lower-quality used oil can be processed into a fuel that can be used by pulp mills, cement plants, asphalt plants, and other industrial applications.

Oil filters and metal oil containers can be crushed and processed by a metal recycler to make construction materials, including rebar and pipe.

Plastic oil containers have a large number of uses. They can be turned into new containers, railway ties, fence posts, patio furniture, and much more.

Why is it important to recycle used lubricating oil materials?

Used lubricating oil, e.g. automotive oil, is considered hazardous waste. Rather than contaminating our waterways and land, it can be collected, processed, and put to good use through recycling.

Oil filters and containers are valuable products. Rather than sending them to landfill, they can help fuel our economy and be transformed into valuable new products.

What if my used lubricating oil (e.g. automotive oil) is mixed with water, antifreeze, paint, solvents or other materials?

If your used lubricating oil, e.g., automotive oil, contains water, antifreeze, paint, solvent, or any other materials then it is contaminated. Contaminated used oil is not accepted as part of Alberta’s used oil materials recycling program, and should be treated or disposed of as per Alberta laws. Your best treatment or disposal option depends on the type of contamination. If you believe that your used oil is contaminated, then please contact a local Registered Processor, a hazardous waste management company, or your local municipality for information about how to dispose of it safely.

Electronics

What is recycled?

Televisions and computer equipment are accepted for recycling at municipal collection sites throughout Alberta. See our ePilot Electronics page for the list of expanded products that can be recycled under our pilot project.

How are electronics processed?

Electronics are picked up from municipal collection sites, businesses, schools, universities, etc. across the province by registered Electronics Processors. These processors safely disassemble them and separate each of the different materials according to the program’s requirements. Commodities like metals, plastics, and glass are collected and sold to be made into new products. The materials processed in Alberta’s electronics recycling program are processed locally and are not sent to, or ‘dumped’ into developing countries.

What does it become?

Electronics contain a number of valuable materials that can be broken down and reused. The steel, aluminum and copper metal found in the wires, cables, and circuitry is used as feedstock for new products. The glass from television and computer screens is melted down, separating the lead, and reused in the manufacture of new products. The plastic from the cases, keyboards, and mice is processed to produce plastic flakes or pellets used to make new consumer products.

Is the information on my computer secure when it is recycled?

The electronics recyclers registered with ARMA adhere to registered processor compliance requirements to ensure the safe and proper disposal of personal information found on devices. However, ARMA recommends wiping your device or hard drive before dropping it off at a collection site to give yourself additional peace of mind.

Is there a risk of my old computer that I just dropped off ending up in a third-world country?

No, unlike other programs, a primary objective of ARMA’s program is to prevent end-of-life computer equipment, TVs, and other devices from being sold or shipped to developing countries where environmental and safety abuses may occur. Material is processed at registered recycler sites in Alberta.

Can I recycle other electronics in Alberta like microwaves, vacuum cleaners or toasters?

In May 2020 the Government of Alberta approved a two-year pilot project to expand the types of end-of-life electronics products that will be accepted through the program. This program was extended through March 2024 in order to continue diverting materials from landfill. Learn more.

What can I do with my printer ink and toner cartridges?

Printer ink and toner cartridges are considered peripheral items within the electronics program and therefore may be accepted in small amounts at your local electronics recycling depot. Please check the Depot Finder to find a location near you and call them to verify that they will accept these items.

Additionally, you can find a list of manufacturers and how they manage their cartridges at https://everycartridge.com/canada/.

I have a number of old electronics, who should I contact to collect them?

You can contact one of our registered processors to arrange a pick-up.

You can also contact 4-H Alberta to collect old electronics and tires from farms, acreages, and residences, as part of a fundraising initiative. Please contact your local club for more information.

Can businesses drop off their old computer equipment, copiers, fax machines, scanners and TVs at any of the Electronics Depots listed by Alberta Recycling?

The majority of electronics recycling depots accept end-of-life electronics from businesses. Search the Depot Finder to locate an electronics recycling depot near you and give them a call to verify acceptance of your material. If your business has any questions regarding recycling electronics, please contact us at electronics.albertarecycling.ca or call us toll-free at 1.888.999.8762.

What happens to the TVs and computers that are dropped off for recycling or picked up from businesses?

They are picked up by registered processors and transported to their facilities, all located in Alberta. The products are disassembled into metals, glass, and plastic. These commodities are then shipped to approved companies for further processing or manufacturing into new products.

ARE THERE ANY FUNDRAising opportunities for charities in this program?

Yes, the Electronics Recycling Roundup is designed to encourage schools, non-profit organizations, and community groups to increase awareness of recycling and raise funds for their organization (or on behalf of an organization), while making it easier for Albertans to recycle their old electronics. Click here for more information on the Electronics Recycling Roundup fundraising opportunity.

Can I RECYCLE SOLAR PANELS?

Included in our ePilot program, we have created a pilot solar panel recycling program. This pilot program intends to gather data and evaluate the processes and best practices for recycling solar panels, including the volumes of solar panels in Alberta.

Household Hazardous Waste

What is the HHW Program?

The Government of Alberta’s HHW Program provides funding assistance to encourage municipalities to separate HHW from the overall municipal waste stream to ensure appropriate disposal in accordance with hazardous waste regulations.

What is HHW?

Toxic, flammable, corrosive, and reactive products generated from households.

HHW has at least one of the following properties:

  • Toxic e.g. fabric softeners, household pesticides and herbicides
  • Flammable e.g. nail polish remover, acetone, gasoline
  • Reactive e.g. foam insulation
  • Corrosive e.g. oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach

If the above-noted materials are received from a non-household entity such as commercial, industrial, or business generators they are not accepted in the HHW Program.

Other hazardous materials such as lead acid batteries, propane tanks and canisters, etc. are not funded through the program, but HHW Registered Brokers can manage the material based on a fee-for-service basis.

How was the program funded and administered up to and including May 31, 2021?

The HHW Program was funded by three entities:

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA) provided funding for two aspects of the Program: (i) material consolidation from municipalities and Indigenous communities, and transportation to the Swan Hills Treatment Centre (contract administered by ARMA) and (ii) material disposal at the Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

ARMA is contracted by AEPA to administer the HHW Registered Brokers program funding. To be eligible for this funding, Brokers register with ARMA and submit claims for the eligible materials in accordance with program requirements.

Alberta Infrastructure subsidized the cost of material disposal at the Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

Municipalities participating in the program funded a significant portion of material collection and often a portion of material transportation.

How will the program be funded and administered as of June 1, 2021?

The Swan Hills Treatment Centre will no longer accept HHW material as of June 1, 2021. The Brokers have identified facilities that can accept HHW for processing and ARMA is working with the Brokers to review and approve these facilities. (HHW requires proper treatment for disposal and therefore must be managed in accordance with applicable waste control regulations.)

AEPA will continue to provide funding for the materials consolidation and transportation of material to an approved facility. The cost for disposal of the material at the facility will be assumed by municipalities and Indigenous communities.

How can I educate myself (or my team) on the proper handling of HHW?

We have developed an online learning module to help you educate yourself and your team on the safe handling and collection of HHW materials. Click here to learn more.