Off the ground: automated waste cart collection starts in Edmonton

At 6:30 am, the first of 16 City of Edmonton garbage trucks equipped with the Automizer Helping Hand device left the Kennedale Yard, and turned toward the future. 

“It’s a big day for all of us in this city who know how important it is to keep food waste out of the landfill,” said Jodi Goebel, who is the City of Edmonton’s Director of Waste Strategy.

“Seeing those trucks with the mechanical arms roll out means we are on our way, with the help of Edmonton residents, to a more sustainable future.”

Heavy lifting

The automated arms lift and dump the contents of two new waste carts—black for garbage, green for food scraps topped up with yard waste—that are centrepieces of the new Edmonton Cart Rollout. 

So far, the carts have been delivered to 40,000 homes. Residences with the carts will switch to automated waste collection this week. The rest of the city will get carts and move to the new system between now and the end of August. 

Take a look at the new trucks in action: 

Residents of Ellerslie, Summerside, Tipaskan, Ekota, Menisa and Meyokumin were among the first Edmontonians to be served by the new trucks.

Ready, sort, go

For residents with the carts, the need to separate garbage from organics, placing them out for pickup in the proper carts, also starts this week. 

Food scraps cart topped  with yard waste.

The carts come with What Goes Where information to help keep food scraps separate from garbage and recycling. 

Goebel with new carts. The green cart comes with a kitchen collection pail.

On collection day, there are four tips to help the collection trucks lift and return the carts safely. With lids closed, the carts should be placed: 

• at least 1 m (3 ft.) away from other carts, structures, snowbanks, bags or other objects,

• upright on level ground (not a platform, sidewalk or other structure), 

• with arrows on the lid pointing towards the street/alley and wheels toward the house, and, 

• with at least 3 m (10 ft) of space between the top of the cart and overhead branches, wires and other objects.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Goebel said the new carts and trucks are visible signs of a deeper commitment to the environment.

“Separating food scraps and yard waste from garbage saves valuable space in the landfill, but it also helps process organic material into valued compost,” said Goebel. 

“Doing all of that keeps that material out of the landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.” 

Collector safety

When collectors themselves lifted garbage into the trucks, they could lift up to 20,000 kg of waste per day. Unloading the heavy lifting onto the mechanical arm means fewer injuries and physical strain. 

“Automated collection will improve collector safety,” said Goebel. 

A lot more info to dig into

There is an online tool to find out when your carts will be delivered

Residents can also improve their knowledge by attending a virtual education session (sign up at edmonton.ca/waste), checking out the information package (welcome brochure, City map, collection calendar and What Goes Where poster) that comes with the carts and downloading the WasteWise app for sorting tips and collection day reminders. 

Editor’s note: The pic at the top of the post shows a newly equipped automated-arm collection truck leaving the Kennedale Yard on April 13, 2021.