Next generation trash collection

Solar powered trash compactor installed by Transcona BIZ


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This article was published 07/05/2018 (1853 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It wasn’t long ago that some Winnipeggers used to look down their noses at “Trashcona.”

But now, the Park City is on the cutting edge of trash collection with a new pilot project that could make a positive impact on reducing litter on the streets while cutting down on the costs of collection.

On May 4, the Transcona BIZ officially unveiled their new solar-powered Big Belly trash and recycling bins with a ceremonial ribbon cutting during their annual neighbourhood cleanup. The new Big Belly bins replaces one of the City’s standard duo waste  and recycling bins.

Sheldon Birnie Alexandra Morrison, executive director of the Transcona BIZ, with two brand-new solar powered Big Belly trash compactor and recycling bins that were recently installed on Regent Avenue West between Bond and Day streets. The bins, the first of their kind in Manitoba, are part of a pilot project the BIZ hopes will not only improve the cleanliness of neighbourhood streets but also reduce costs to the City of Winnipeg for trash collection. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

“It’s the first of its kind in Manitoba, right here in Transcona,” Alexandra Morrison, executive director of the Transcona BIZ, told The Herald. “We’re super, super excited.”

Equipped with solar powered sensors and a scale, the  bins detect when trash or recycling reach a certain threshold. At that point, the compactors are engaged.

“It doesn’t squish it in to a brick, but compresses to get the air out,” Morrison explained. “You can get over five times the amount of garbage in one space.”

Transcona BIZ and City staff can keep track of the bins’ status with an app on their phone or desktop computers.

“These things are also sealed, so less likely to have pests buzzing around in the summer, less likely for ravens coming and picking garbage out onto the sidewalk,” Morrison added.

Morrison first came across the solar powered bins on vacation in San Francisco, Calif., two years ago. At the same time, Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) had come across a similar bins in Kenora, Ont., which has 70 bins throughout the community.

“The universe seemed to be in alignment,” Morrison said.

At Wyatt’s urging, the BIZ decided to pursue a pilot project, in partnership with the City, to see if implementing the bins could both reduce the amount of trash on city streets while also saving money on trash collection.

“The litter down here on Regent between Bond and Day can be pretty bad in the summer,” Morrison said. “We’ve had problems in the past where the City couldn’t catch up. So we pitched the idea to our board, and they accepted it.”

The BIZ also applied for a community incentive grant in February for $6,000 towards the cost of the bins, which cost approximately $14,000, including delivery and installation. The BIZ received a separate grant for the remaining cost. The bins were purchased from and installed in April by Sycamore Energy.

“Some people are wondering why we spent so much money on a garbage can,” Morrison admitted. “But our board and members were really on board, and the fact that we were able to get some grant money was very important.  We’re grateful for those components.”

In April, the City’s innovation committee approved a $135,000 pilot project to purchase and install 15 more garbage and recycling containers throughout the city. If the pilot project proves successful, Morrison said she’d like to see all the old trash and recycling bins in downtown Transcona replaced by “two or three” Big Belly bins.

“We’ll see how the community reacts,” she said. “If Kenora can do this, surely Winnipeg can do this as well.”

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at Call him at 204-697-7112

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