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Toronto hopes new garbage bins will improve on problematic originals

Toronto is testing out new sidewalk waste bins to address longstanding complaints from residents who have long bemoaned the messy and inefficient original designs.

The changes primarily address the openings for waste to be deposited, which are now wider with the intention of reducing the likelihood of garbage getting jammed, often the case with flaps installed on the previous iteration.

Stronger hinges, reinforced frames and doors, and adjustments to locks are supposed to increase the durability of the bins, which have often been spotted as coming apart at their seams.

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The city will also begin testing sensors to be placed on 250 bins, which will track how full they are and if there is a need to increase visits from waste management.

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These changes come as the contract the city signed with Astral is nearing its end. In 2007, the city entered into a two-decade-long contract with the private company, which was tasked with installing, cleaning and maintaining the roughly 11,000 bins spread throughout Toronto.

Shortly after being re-elected in 2022, then-mayor John Tory said he got an earful during the mayoral campaign about public displeasure with the bins. Tory indicated he would begin looking at reopening the contract with Astral if a suitable redesign wasn’t found.

While Tory’s political career ended abruptly, the work to improve the waste bins did not. At a press conference in front of one of the new bins, Mayor Olivia Chow said a thousand of the bins will be spread out across the city’s downtown to see if they are up to the task.

Click to play video: 'Toronto begins targeted blitz of graffiti, litter, considers breaking garbage bin contract'

Toronto begins targeted blitz of graffiti, litter, considers breaking garbage bin contract

Asked whether she intends to extend the city’s contract with Astral, Chow said that will depend on the performance of the bins. The mayor said the earliest a new contract would go out to tender would be 2026, so she’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

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“The fact we are sending staff to inspect it every week for six months tells you we’re very serious in making sure these bins work,” she said.

The cost of the redesign is being covered by Astral, and a representative from the company said the company had made several improvements over the course of the contract.

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