Better blue bins

Fivebins - New automated trucks

Fivebins – New automated trucks such as this one will
soon be picking up recycling and garbage bins at a
curbside near you.

In a few days Scarborough residents will be the first in the city to try out the city’s new, high-tech waste collection system that comes complete with everything except a way to stop raccoons.

The new waste management plan sees people given new blue recycling carts, complete with wheels and a lid, to replace the old rectangular boxes.

“Nothing is raccoon proof,” says Tim Michael, manager of waste diversion for Solid Waste Management Services. “But they’re probably more raccoon resistant than [the current system].”

Those new carts, available in three sizes, are the first phase in the city’s Target70 program, aimed at diverting up to 70% of waste from landfills by 2010. Implemention for 500,000 single-family households will spread to other parts of the city over the next few years.

Nosy raccoons, though, will be the least of the problems for the program, as it enters a second phase by Nov. 2008 — fee-based garbage collection.

Following the recycling bins, new computer chip equipped garbage bins will also be rolled out, along with automated garbage trucks operated by a single driver. Each wheeled garbage bin gets automatically hoisted to the truck and its computerized signature recorded, all in a single movement.

Residents will have different sizes to choose from, but unlike the blue bins, the size chosen will determine the new annual “solid waste” charge that will be added to a household’s water bill.

The prospect of illegal dumping has been taken into consideration just in case some try to avoid the annual fee, tentatively set at $41, $101, and $151 for medium, large, and extra large sizes. The smallest size, able to hold a standard garbage bag will be free.

To combat illegal dumping new bylaw officers will soon be hired and dumping “hotspots” monitored more closely, officials said.

Michael recommends households “be realistic in how much garbage they generate” to avoid the trouble.

For the moment, homeowners will likely get a three- to four-bag allowance every year, to be placed alongside the bin during peak times, such as Christmas. After that, getting those extra bags collected will mean having to buy a $3 tag for each bag.

“The blue bins are first phase of [the] rollout so we haven’t got into the actual nitty-gritty of the garbage billing system yet,” said Michael.