It’s all over now, nonwheeled garbage cans

The era of heavy, awkward, wheelless garbage cans is finally over. City-supplied wheeled plastic totes ?-- deemed a success in Porter Creek -- will be distributed to every Whitehorse house by early May.

The era of heavy, awkward, wheelless garbage cans is finally over.

City-supplied wheeled plastic totes – deemed a success in Porter Creek—will be distributed to every Whitehorse house by early May.

The new containers will make garbage bags a thing of the past, and are expected to cut injury rates among garbage collectors.

“Now that I’ve had one, I wouldn’t want to not have one,” said Whitehorse Mayor Bev Buckway.

The new carts allow full automation of garbage pickup.

A garbage collector can complete an entire route—in less time—without stepping out of the truck.

Garbage trucks will simply pull up next to the curbside bins. A pair of hydraulic arms will reach out, lift and empty the bins.

Computer-controlled positioning will then return the carts to exactly the spot from which they were lifted.

Automatic collection ends the need for bags. In Whitehorse, loose trash and compost is no longer taboo.

The project’s fleet of three new trucks will be more efficient than the old ones.

At 27 metres long, rather than the previous 18 metres, the trucks will “have a smaller carbon footprint because they’ll have to make fewer trips to the landfill,” said Buckway.

Larger garbage trucks will no longer rumble down Whitehorse’s narrow alleys. Collection will move to the front curb.

That will also improve safety, said Jim McLeod, manager of public works.

Also, there is no need to manhandle garbage bags into a compactor, removing the risk workers faced from sharp objects and repetitive strain injury.

In other municipalities, the carts have caused injury rates to plummet. “Vancouver went from 30 lost man-years a year to only one,” said McLeod. “Prince George went from three down to none.”

Because it removes most of the physical labour, older drivers can resume their old pickup routes, said McLeod.

At a capacity of 240 litres apiece, the totes can handle the occasional missed collection, said Buckway.

And they are odour resistant.

Overhauling garbage collection has been discussed for more than six years, said Buckway.

In 2007, carts were given to Porter Creek residents as part of a pilot project.

Among other benefits, garbage bag usage immediately dropped by 67 per cent and compost participation rose 30 per cent.

The city has ordered 6,000 garbage carts and 6,000 compost carts, all at a total cost of $837,570—roughly $70 per cart.

Adding the cost of three new garbage trucks, the program budget is $1.7 million.

The cost is being covered through federal gas-tax funding.

“It does not come out of the taxpayer’s pocket for this,” said Buckway.

People will have to find alternate uses for their old garbage cans.

“I can tell you from personal experience that they make a great container for your dog food,” said Buckway.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com