Astral Media finally admits that its sidewalk rubbish bins are garbage

Astral Media finally admits that its sidewalk rubbish bins are garbage

Changing of the trash guard: the pedal operated bin (right) replaces an older model (Image: Neil Ta, from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

When the city started rolling out its new streetside garbage cans four years ago, we were taken with them in a “huh, that’s new” kind of way. It didn’t take long for us to find that many of the bins had broken foot pedals that had to be forced open by hand, making the foot pedals a waste. Astral Media, which is providing the bins to the city as part of an advertising contract, has finally admitted that, yes, the bins have some serious engineering problems.

According to the Toronto Star:

Astral Media is asking the manufacturer of the containers to rework the foot pedal and fix the tension cable that opens the recycling and garbage flaps.

“There were a handful of scenarios where the pedal—just from the sheer abuse in the downtown core—actually broke on one side,” said Kyp Perikleous, who manages the street furniture program for Toronto. “And we’ve had a number of locations where the tension cord gets overstretched and the flaps either remain open or don’t fully open for garbage when the foot pedal is pressed down,” he says.

The problem has occurred in about 40 of 4,000 bins. “But it’s enough that, because it’s early in the program, Astral brought it to our attention,” Perikleous said.

Only one per cent? Either we’re unlucky or the numbers are fishy. In either case, it’s nice to see that Astral is working on getting better bins made. It’s worth pointing out that despite what we’ll delicately call “design criticisms,” the overall deal has been lucrative for the city: Toronto is guaranteed $428 million over the life of the contract, and Astral actually paid the city extra last year because advertising had been more profitable than anticipated. So it’s really a good news story—or will be, once Astral gets the advanced technology of “foot pedal” figured out. Maybe subcontract to Honda?

• Putting mettle to the pedal [Toronto Star]