Manitoba

Winnipeg hopes for minimal trash talk as new waste collectors hit the street

It's a new garbage and recycling day ​for the City of Winnipeg. For the first time since 2012, the city will see a change to the contractors collecting household waste as of Monday.

'Bear with us,' councillor implores as contractors GFL and Miller take over from Emterra and Progressive

Two new garbage and recycling contractors begin collecting in Winnipeg Monday. (CBC)

It's a new garbage and recycling day ​for the City of Winnipeg.

For the first time since 2012, the city will see a change to the contractors collecting household waste starting Monday.

Two Toronto-area waste-management companies, GFL Environmental and Miller Waste Systems, began emptying black and blue bins in Winnipeg early Monday as part of nearly seven-year contracts that will cost the city a total of $251 million.

GFL and Miller replaced Emterra Environmental and Progressive Waste Solutions, which concluded five-year contracts with the city on Sept. 29. Emterra had the lion's share of the work.

The initial weeks of the old contracts were marred by widespread service disruptions, partly because the city switched contractors at the same time Winnipeg households switched over from placing their waste in trash cans and blue bins to rolling bins that can be tipped into trucks equipped with automated levers.

New waste collectors hit the streets

5 years ago
Duration 1:39
It's a new garbage and recycling day ​for the City of Winnipeg. For the first time since 2012, the city will see a change to the contractors collecting household waste starting Monday.

"Last time, as you know, we had entire sections of the city [missed] in my ward that were south of the Perimeter," said St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes, council's water and waste chair.

"People forgot about them, didn't realize they were in the city. We shouldn't have anything that drastic this time," he said.

"We are going to have some long weeks out there, but bear with us. It should certainly be a more efficient transition than what we went through in 2012."

As of this week, roughly three in five Winnipeg households have new garbage and recycling collection days. The switch was made partly due to the need to balance out service areas between the two new firms, and partly to end Monday collection in areas of the city at a higher risk of arson.

The Winnipeg Police Service recommended not leaving bins in back lanes during the weekend after concluding arson is more likely to take place in higher-risk neighbourhoods on weekends than during the week.

No more hoisting bins overhead

Another major change involves the end of purely manual collection. The GFL and Miller contracts require the firms to use automated equipment that empties all rolling bins, even in back lanes. 

It is no longer acceptable for workers to lift bins over their heads manually, said Daryl Doubleday, Winnipeg's solid-waste manager.

Under the last waste collection contract, bins were picked up and emptied automatically on most streets where the rolling carts were placed in front of homes, while manual emptying was common in back lanes.

Both GFL and Miller have rear-loading trucks to operate in back lanes as well as front-loading trucks, Doubleday said. Manual collection will only be permitted if there's a mechanical failure, but even then under what he describes as "safe work" procedures.

"Certainly we should have fewer issues with injured workers," Mayes said.

The city also expects to clear up waste collection backlogs under the new contract, thanks to the division of Winnipeg into two roughly equal waste collection areas.

Winnipeg's two new waste collection contractors are each responsible for roughly one half of the city.

"If there's a problem in one zone [and] they get behind, we should be able to help out with the other company. Up to now, it's been all Emterra, all the time, for almost the entire city. We haven't had this sort of option where we can use the other carrier," Mayes said.

"We certainly hope to have fewer complaints and fewer missed calls."

In recent months, representatives from GFL and Miller have met with the city at least once a week to ensure they're prepared for their new duties, Doubleday said.

"Both contractors have done great job in executing on those plans to make sure we're ready for Monday, so we're comfortable where we're at," he said.

Emterra still has one remaining role in Winnipeg waste collection. The firm continues to process recyclable materials under a contract that has been extended until 2019, Doubleday said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.

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