Recycling bins and newspaper vending racks: a project for the Streetscape Task Force?

Recycling bins downtown Recycling bins downtown newspaper vending racks downtown
City Administrator Joel Walinski writes in the June 4 Friday Memo:

Downtown Recycling Cans, Oh! They’re so ugly! 20 temporary recycling containers were put in place Friday June 4, 2010 along Division Street. Street Supervisor TJ Heinricy has been working with Waste Management staff to develop a test-recycling program for the downtown area over the past several months.

Our interest is in the assessing the recycling waste stream and how much use there is or could be. This information will be used in the cost analysis and consideration of the return on investment for allocating future dollars on more permanent (eye-appealing) recycling containers in the downtown area.

Seems like downtown recycling bins and newspaper vending racks should be a project for the Streetscape Task Force.

Recycling bins, Montreal Missoula recycling bins  Flash Forward recycling bin, Toronto
Left: I like the ones used in Montreal near McGill University.
Center: the ones in Missoula, Montana aren’t bad
Right: even better are ones in Toronto that serve another purpose – Art:


The Magenta Foundation is Canada’s first charitable publishing house, whose mandate is to nurture new Canadian artists and set them up for success and recognition on the international scene. Flash Forward is their yearly emerging photographers competition. Last time around, the artists chosen for Flash Forward got the added rush of having their work displayed on recycling bins around downtown Toronto.

The benefit of this is obvious. Metal recycling boxes are ugly. Art is pretty. Plus Toronto’s downtown core can benefit from all the added artistic exposure it can get. Aside from a few bright spots, it’s not exactly an area where accessible public art is popping up everywhere you look. Each time I came across a new one of these while I was walking around downtown it was like finding a chocolate egg on Easter morning. Plus I get a little misty eyed thinking of all the people who maybe wouldn’t have been interested in fostering or even noticing Canadian artists who had their attitudes changed by discovering works of art in such unexpected places.

4 thoughts on “Recycling bins and newspaper vending racks: a project for the Streetscape Task Force?”

  1. I don’t think the Northfield bins are ugly. They are designed to be functional, easy to use, easy to dump and not too conspicuous, but not invisible either.
    While I like the use of a bit of craft to decorate a bin, with the actual subject at hand in mind, i.e.,recycling and proper placement of it all, I absolutely loathe the idea of putting art on a bin, (or putting craft on a bin and calling it art for that matter).

    Who wants to put the same thing on the walls of a fine restaurant or other high end establishment as is found on the recycling bins? Art should lift us up out of everyday matters, so that when we return to everyday matters, we have a new appreciation, or inspiration regarding life. To continually bring art down to the everyday matters diminishes it’s value and effort.

    I am not for the homoginization of all. Well, yeah, I’ll go with it for a few moments because I do realize the value of valuelessness but then I’d move on because that is where the energy flows anyway.

  2. i remember when the northfield union of youth’s environment club (now defunct) had this idea and sent some emails out. we were told it wasn’t a good idea. i’m glad that it finally came back around. (despite the ugliness and supposedly finite longevity, it’s a great thing to see.)

    the idea we had were sturdy wire baskets that would just hang on the side of the green trash baskets, and sort of clip on to the slots. it was pretty ingenious but involved using a canvas or rice bag as the exterior (probably not a good idea in this soggy weather) and not a good idea anyway as far as durability.

    but this was THE KEY so our budget was -10 cents
    .-= (Marie is a blogger. See a recent post titled Explanation) =-.

  3. Marie, I actually like the idea of a wire basket gizmo of some kind that hangs on the side of the current trash bins. Cheap! The trick would be to make it apparent to people that it was for recycling, not trash. Any ideas on how that could be done?

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