Friday, March 5, 2010

Garbage collection gets an overhaul

Automated black cart garbage collection pilot has been a great success and sets the tone for future expansion.

With it comes the near elimination of injuries inherent with garbage collection. Things like strained and sprained muscles and puncture wounds from sharp objects like broken glass, nails and needles in garbage bags.

The pilot project that began in October 2008 resulted in zero injuries to garbage collectors in the first year compared to 215 injuries related to hand collection from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009.

“I’m impressed and pleased with the results,” said Darcy Cairns, superintendent of Automated Collection for Waste & Recycling Services. He noted that the driving force behind black cart garbage collection was the improvement of health and safety for workers and citizens.

Automated collection uses trucks equipped with mechanical arms to collect garbage from wheeled carts. One of the main safety improvements is that workers no longer manually lift up to 13,000 kilograms of garbage a day.

“Automation is the modern way of doing things. We don’t dig ditches by hand anymore so why are we still collecting garbage by hand?” said Cairns.

There will continue to be some residential hand collection as citizens can place excess garbage bags beside the black carts for hand pickup. But the pilot showed that only 13 per cent of garbage collected was placed outside the carts.

The pilot, paid for by City health and safety funds, served 15,000 households in Cedarbrae, Citadel, Deer Run, Dover, Huntington Hills and Mount Pleasant.

Results showed that not only do black carts improve safety; they also keep neighbourhoods cleaner and are easy for citizens to use.

“We’ve definitely noticed cleaner back lanes as animals and birds are no longer able to get at the bags,” said Cairns.

Citizens who participated in the pilot appreciated not having to carry their garbage bags out to the lane or curb and found that they and their garbage collectors were safer because of reduced bag handling.

A survey of citizens participating in the pilot project found that 93 per cent were satisfied with black cart collection and 78 per cent found the cart was large enough to hold the amount of garbage they accumulate over a week.

Homes up to and including fourplexes will eventually receive a black cart along with detailed instructions on how to use it. The carts, similar to the Blue Carts used for recycling, are 59.1 centimetres (24 1/4 inches) wide, 74.4 cm (29 5/16 inches) long and 106.6 cm (42 inches) high. Each cart can hold the equivalent of three to four garbage bags. The carts remain the property of The City.

Black cart garbage collection
comes at no extra cost to citizens.

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