Innovative UV cart-cleaning system has Winnipeg connection

An innovative new device that can disinfect shopping carts — and anything else — is being tried out at a grocery store in British Columbia, but it has a Winnipeg connection.

Winnipeg’s PCL Construction has spent the pandemic working with U.S. firm Sterilray to come up with the ‘clean cart’ technology, which handles the need for carts to be wiped down and disinfected with a blast of touch-free ultraviolet (UV) rays.

“Basically, we did a solid hunt for the right technology to put in, and what we landed on was this specific UV lamp,” PCL’s Chad Keuler told 680 CJOB.

“I’ve had, let’s call it, a 10-month course in ultraviolet education and microbiology.”

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Kueler said the Sterilray lamp uses a different UV wavelength than other lights, so it’s not harmful to skin or eyes, but it can disinfect objects with over 99 per cent effectiveness.

“It’s a lot more potent for deactivating those nasty bugs,” he said.

“We call it the portal — you can place the shopping cart in there, it registers a code that we’ve placed on the shopping cart, and runs through its cycle.”

The portal, a modular white aluminum tunnel, which Keuler compared to “a giant EZ-Bake Oven,” has the potential to disinfect more than just carts.

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“I love innovation and creativity, and (its uses are) almost endless. When I look at all the things I would love my kids not to have to worry about touching, especially when going to school… we’ve got ways to alter it to do knapsacks, you can do baggage if you want at an airport, library books.

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“Whatever you can put into it is what it’ll clean, as long as the light touches the surface.”

Quality Foods president Noel Howard — whose View Royal location in Victoria, B.C., is home to the first in-use cart cleaner, told Global News he’s excited by the technology and has already ordered it for 12 other Vancouver Island locations.

“It was an idea just a few short months ago,” said Howard.

“Six months later, here’s the machine. It’s a proof of concept. It’s one of only two that have been made, it’s the first one that’s gone into use in Canada. It’s exciting.

“This is the best way to sanitize a grocery cart. We can wipe down the handles all we want, but what about the rest of the surfaces? This really solves that problem.”

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