For a city that started out 20 years behind the rest of the country, Calgary is set to propel itself to the top of its class in waste diversion within four years, according to a city alderman.

Ward 11. Ald. Brian Pincott said he is very pleased with the results of the residential waste collection and disposal program report coming up to the utilities and environment committee today.

“For a city that was lagging so far behind not too long ago and is going to be leading the nation within four years — that’s incredible,” Pincott said.

Pincott said a successful automated garbage pickup pilot program last year in a handful of select communities will spread throughout the city next year.

Another integral part of the waste-diversion strategy will be the Tag-a-Bag program for excess garbage, but Pincott said it’s too early to put a price tag on the cost.

Natalie Odd, executive director for Green Calgary, said the city is moving in the right direction.

“The sooner the better for pay-as-you-throw, because it gives people the extra incentive to cut down on their waste, which right now we don’t have yet,” Odd said.

The city expects to fully implement automatic garbage pickup in 2011 and the Tag-a-Bag program in 2012.