Toronto gets brand new recycling bins — but will it make any difference?

The installation of more than 1,000 new recycling bins could be pointless if all the waste ends up in the back of a city dump truck anyways.

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Astute Rebel News viewers may recall that back in March, cameraman Lincoln Jay and I were in downtown Toronto near Yonge Dundas Square when we witnessed something borderline surreal. Namely, a City of Toronto pickup truck stopped at a garbage/recycling receptacle.

The driver exited the truck to empty the bins. And we were shocked by what we witnessed: namely, ALL of the contents of that segregated receptacle — in other words, both the trash AND the recyclables — were collectively dumped into the pickup truck bed where, of course, everything got commingled and cross-contaminated!

How bizarre. These receptacles have been around for decades. Torontonians have been told to be uber-diligent when it comes to separating their disposables. And yet it would seem that all this separation of trash and recyclables is literally just a big waste of time.

So, it caught our attention last week when the City of Toronto announced that new waste/recycling receptacles are headed for city streets.

More than 1,000 new bins are expected to be installed in high-density areas in the months ahead, replacing the older bins.

The new bins feature such enhancements as:

  • A wider opening that reduces the likelihood of disposed items getting stuck;
  • A stronger self-closing hinge;
  • Reinforcement of the frame and doors for added durability;
  • Adjustments to the locking mechanism;
  • The introduction of two garbage options per bin, which reduces the likelihood of overflows and contamination of recyclable materials.

So, what’s not to love?

Well, here’s the deal: as we witnessed back in March, this business of separating garbage and recyclables would seem to be pointless, given that EVERYTHING in those bins went into the very same bed of a City of Toronto pickup truck (where, naturally, the recyclables were comingled with the trash).

Will these new garbage bins solve this problem? Or is this all about a feel-good exercise in which the city is hoping to make people THINK they are doing something positive for the environment?

Of note, Rebel News reached out to the City of Toronto for comment. In an emailed statement, Matt Keliher, General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services, stated the following: “If the recycling material was correctly sorted and of good enough quality (without food waste, liquid etc.) the City does have the ability to separate it in its regular litter bin collection trucks, which are used for the majority (about 90%) of litter bin collections. The pickup trucks are just used for responding to service requests during the day, and for collections done during the day to supplement the night collection done in highly dense areas. Pickup trucks are used for these collections for safety and efficiency reasons as it is challenging to service these bins, many of which are in congested areas, during the day with our larger litter bin collection trucks.”

Bottom line: once the 1,000 new bins are installed, we will again reach out to the city to inquire about the success rate of these new receptacles (we assume the city conducts an annual waste audit). Will the recovery rate of recyclables improve — or is this all just a bunch of garbage?

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