Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Toronto Vs. Vancouver: Garbage Can Edition

photo by JBcurio from Flickr Creative Commons

I'm not sure what it says about me that I take pictures of garbage cans when I'm on vacation, but I couldn't help snapping a few photos of some of Vancouver's newest additions to the trash scene when I was there last week. I never really gave garbage cans much thought before I moved to Toronto and encountered the ugly, non-functional and corporate-branded AstralMedia garbage cans that dominate the Toronto streetscape (see above photo).

These hulking, plastic bins feature a step-bar that is meant to open a flap so you don't have to soil your hand while throwing something away. Great idea. Except that 99% of the time it's broken. The company that provided them, AstralMedia, recently admitted that their garbage cans are, well, garbage.

I'm not sure when these were put up, but Vancouver's new all metal compost/recycling/garbage receptacles, which I found down near the Vancouver Convention Centre are great. Best part about these that I can see? They're easy to clean. No curving lines, weird plastic or hinges. Just hose these suckers off and they're shiny as new.

I also found some new receptacles near the Olympic Village that featured a similar functional design with multiple compartments for different recyclables, and also a solar-powered trash compactor. I have my doubts that people are going to be using the compartments exactly as labeled. Most times people just chuck their junk into the nearest opening without checking to make sure whether it's for newspapers or banana peels. However, the thin slot for the newspapers bin discourages people who would ignorantly toss in the remains of their Bic Mac.

These two designs are much better than the often over-flowing garbage cans that Vancouver began installing en masse several years ago. Those garbage cans allowed no place for recyclables or compost (granted, at the time the City didn't collect compost). They did however, contain a spot that was meant for cans and bottles so that "binners"--people that collect cans and bottles for their refund--didn't have to reach into the garbage can to collect them. Unfortunately, these trays simply filled with garbage most times.

photo by Carolyn Coles from Flickr Creative Commons

Of course, we could just get rid of garbage cans altogether and install a system of trash-sucking pneumatic tubes like those found on New York's Roosevelt Island or Stockholm's Hammarby Sjostad neighbourhood. Just don't fall in.

photos my own, except where noted.


  1. Those are some amazing garbage bins in both Toronto and Vancouver. I'll have to see if I can be even more creative with the garbage bins in my office. Thanks for sharing the inspiration!

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  3. You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve truly read something like this before. So great to find someone with genuine thoughts on this issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

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