City staff trash automated garden waste collection plan, offer kraft paper bags only

TORONTO – City of Toronto staff have the idea to automate the collection of household yard waste and are instead pushing for a plan that allows collection of leaves and yard waste in kraft paper bags only.

In a report to be considered by city councilors, solid waste staff say a pilot project that examined the feasibility of using city-issued “brown bins” for yard waste did produce no operational efficiency and not worth adopting.

The standardized bins were distributed to around a thousand households at the end of 2018 to assess whether the collection could be fully automated, to reduce worker injuries while allowing the city to staff the trucks with one operator instead of two. .

But the problem turned out to be that during peak garden waste times, homeowners needed additional containers for leaves and clippings, which required non-standardized bins or bags for the overflow.

“We obviously needed a special truck to collect the automated bins for garden waste, but we also needed a truck capable of accommodating the workers to be able to lift these kraft paper bags into the hopper,” Annette Synowiec of Solid Waste Management Services told CTV News Toronto.

“And really, it wasn’t an ergonomic solution either. “

According to a 2018 consultant report, Solid Waste Management incurred approximately $ 626,000 in costs related to musculoskeletal injury claims between 2013 and 2017, most often attributed to manual container handling.

To reduce worker injuries, staff now recommend banning unstandardized garbage bins for yard waste from 2023, giving homeowners the option of using only kraft paper bags. Currently, homeowners are permitted to use their own rigid open containers for yard waste.

“[Those containers] sometimes requires a shaking or additional emptying of this content, so in early spring or late fall we may have a cold snap where the material can get stuck or freeze, and it is also difficult to un ergonomically to be able to release this material, ”said Synowiec.

But Councilor James Pasternak, a member of the infrastructure and environment committee, questioned the advice, saying it went against years of calls for the public to use reusable containers to reduce waste. .

“Now we’re doing a pivot, where we don’t want them to keep using the same item week after week that they provide at their own expense,” Pasternak said. “We’re asking them to stop doing this and go buy some kraft paper bags, so it’s kind of a paradigm shift that we’re going to have to work on.”

The city’s infrastructure and environment committee will review the staff recommendation on July 5.

Any changes to yard waste collection protocols will still need to be approved by the full council.

Ethel J. Montes