Commentary

Searching for Public Recycling Bins in Hamilton

Resource management, despite complexities, is significantly improved by strategically providing public recycling bins on busy streets and intersections.

By Andrew Cech and Jonathan Lambert
Published July 30, 2013

While there have been great improvements in municipal environmental programs, waste disposal and resource management remain major issues for communities. For example, recent surveys investigated the distribution of public recycling bins in Montreal and Ottawa.

However, there is a general lack of recorded information about the placement of public recycling bins in Hamilton, Ontario.

Public recycling bins help bring diverse environmental, economic, and social benefits to communities. First, providing recycling bins in public spaces and on city streets can contribute to increasing the quantity of recycling, which can reduce the size of our problematic landfill sites. Second, recycling bins can save communities money in the long run, because many products, such as aluminium-based goods, are extremely costly to produce from raw material. Third, public recycling bins can enhance awareness of recycling and environmental issues, such as climate change and peak oil, so that we can move toward more sustainable living.

As described by scientists and activists such as David Suzuki and David R. Boyd in their book David Suzuki's Green Guide (Vancouver, Greystone Books), life on earth is dangerously close to environmental devastation and action must be taken now in order to reduce the ecological footprint of people living in wealthy industrialized nations.

Where are public recycling bins in Hamilton? Comparing the ratio of public garbage bins to public recycling bins on streets can provide insight into city public recycling bin distribution. On King Street in Hamilton, between John and Locke there were approximately 50 garbage bins and 15 public recycling bins. These recycling bins consist of three containers for paper, cans and bottles, and litter, as shown in the following photo:

Photo: Public recycling bin at Gore Park on the corner of King and James, July 2013
Photo: Public recycling bin at Gore Park on the corner of King and James, July 2013

Along Main Street, from John to Dundurn there were approximately 16 public garbage bins and two public recycling bins.

These data suggest that public recycling bins are not uncommon in downtown Hamilton. However, public recycling bins are rarer further away from the city centre. For example, along Charlton Street (not far from Main and King) there were approximately nine public garbage bins and zero public recycling bins between John and Dundern.

Future studies may investigate more thoroughly the distribution pattern of public recycling bins on Hamilton streets and match these patterns with regions of high pedestrian traffic.

Although incomplete, this study has examined the distribution of public recycling bins in Hamilton. Resource management, despite complexities, is significantly improved by strategically providing public recycling bins on busy streets and intersections.

While the earth is facing urgent environmental problems often directly caused by human activity, we can also look forward to implementing healthy change, reducing our use of non-renewable resources, and supporting participation in recycling.

Andrew Cech graduated in graphic design at Mohawk College. He enjoys drawing and lives in Hamilton.

Jonathan Lambert is a returnee to Hamilton, Ontario. In between studies at the University of Toronto and stellar pick-up soccer, he enjoys taking in Monday night Hamilton Red Wing home games.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2013 at 09:59:23

If you're ever in doubt about the sewer-level regard most Hamiltonians have for waste management (and - twofer! - the city's downtown), do a lap of the north-face sidewalks along King Street after Saint Nick has passed through. Three solid blocks of slice boxes, Tims trays, coffee cups, juice boxes, snack wrappers, etc.

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By IanReynolds (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:17:21 in reply to Comment 90554

A couple weeks ago as a joke I started taking pictures of all the Tim Hortons cups I've found not in recycling/garbage bins. Every single trip I've taken I've found one somewhere and it's no longer funny or "interesting" to me. It's embarrassing.

Someone at the plaza on John and Forest yesterday dumped a bunch of garbage from their van onto the ground inside their parking spot. They were parked up against the plaza, within steps of a garbage bin. It was disgusting in the human context moreso than in the actual litter context. And yes there were multiple Tim Hortons cups, though I was too angry to take a picture before cleaning it up.

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By hamgoer (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2013 at 10:46:46

Maybe you could spell "dundern" correctly

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By Maller (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2013 at 11:56:57

Jackson Square, in the food court area, accommodates recycling for glass and cans but not plastic. Nowhere in the mall have I see a receptacle for plastic recycling.

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By Why (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2013 at 13:16:16

Why can I never find a recycling bin along the James Street Art Crawl?

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By SawToday (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2013 at 20:14:43

There are some in the City Centre food court. And the farmers market and just inbetween the sets of doors at the library as you come in from the food court entrance.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted August 01, 2013 at 21:10:43

why arent there recycling depositories in every park and recreation area in hamilton? the city enforces recycling bylaws on private citizens and ignores their responsibility to recycle.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted August 02, 2013 at 12:17:11

Toronto's contract with Astral Media is expected to bring in over 20 years $479 million (on a $200 million investment), and includes both garbage/recycling bins and bus shelters. Why can't Hamilton do the same?

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By Totally Different (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2013 at 22:24:40 in reply to Comment 90601

For the same reason that we don't see as many condo cranes here as along main routes Toronto... totally different densities, pedestrian volumes, demographics and affluence. That's why we can still afford to live here and have a backyard ;-) Gawd, I hope it changes soon.

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