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Good news for grouches: Toronto unveils new and improved garbage bins | CBC News

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Toronto’s controversial sidewalk litter bins have officially gotten a makeover, with the city saying it has made enhancements to the older model bins to address some of the functionality and maintenance issues.

At a news conference Thursday, Mayor Olivia Chow said the city is working to address Toronto’s trash problem by adding four new sidewalk litter bins this week, with more than 1,000 expected to be added in high-density areas by the end of the year. 

“I literally inherited a mess, and yes we are cleaning it up,” Chow said at Nathan Phillips Square.

“I see the need for us to have cleaner streets, so I’ve been working hard at it.”

Toronto residents have complained of garbage overflowing onto streets and blowing into surrounding areas. Chow said the modifications to the sidewalk litter bins improve their durability and functionality and address those concerns.

Bin sensor pilot to run this year

A majority of the bins being installed will replace older model bins, according to the news release. 

Toronto piloted the enhancements to the older model bins that were tested and monitored in four locations, between December 2023 and January 2024.

The new enhancements to the bins include a wider opening, to reduce the likelihood of disposed items getting stuck, a stronger self-closing hinge, reinforcement of the frame and doors for added durability and adjustments to the locking mechanism.

The city has roughly 11,000 litter bins on its streets and sidewalks. A majority of the enhanced bins will replace older model bins, like the one pictured here. (Grant Jennings/CBC)

The new design also includes two garbage options per bin which reduces the likelihood of overflows and contamination of recyclable materials, the city said.

A bin sensor pilot program is set to run this year on about 250 of the street litter bins. The program will detect the fullness of the bins and relay when the bins are at or near capacity so that collection can be scheduled, according to the release.

The city will also be hiring additional staff to inspect the bins, gather data and report overflowing and maintenance issues for a period of six months to define trends and recommendations for optimal collection frequency, it added.

Older design ‘flawed,’ says councillor

In 2007, the city, which is responsible for garbage collection, inked a 20-year contract with Astral Out-of-Home, the private media company responsible for maintaining 11,000 garbage bins across Toronto.

Ahead of the unveiling of the newly designed bins, Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Beaches-East York, said the performance of the older model bins has been “so poor,” adding that the city needs better functioning trash bins to address its garbage problem.

“The design was flawed and [this] certainly couldn’t be worse than what we already have,” he told CBC Toronto.

But Bradford questioned why the city was “rushing to unveil” the newly designed bins before consulting council or Torontonians. 

“I hope that these bins are going to be a home run, I hope that we can stop talking about overflowing garbage bins here in the City of Toronto and designs that don’t meet the functional requirements of residents,” Bradford said.

“But the fact that this is coming forward now and nobody’s heard anything about it [is] a bit of a red flag.”

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