Many Albertans stuck indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic will be venturing out for a walk now and then.
When on a public path or passing through a park, a green Hid-A-Bag bin is a likely sight – and a convenient place to toss trash.
But COVID-19 can be transmitted through a variety of surfaces, including metal. With this in mind, public garbage bins are considered a high-risk area of transmission.
Brent Cummins, vice president of sales and marketing with Haul-All Equipment Ltd. in Lethbridge, Alta., says he got the idea to create an innovative way of propping bins open after learning the city had come up with its own method.
“They had propped open the bins with a bolt, so I inspected it,” said Cummins. “We looked and realized that was probably quite labour intensive, and it was a permanent solution as well, in the sense that they probably had to drill a hole.”
Cummins estimates between 600-700 of Haul-All’s bins exist throughout Lethbridge. When he saw what the city was trying to do, he took the idea back to his engineers to make a more temporary, but effective solution.
He says within a day or so, they had several ideas.
“They liked our first prototype. In an effort to make it even easier, we continued to tweak it a little bit and we came up with our final solution, which can be added in literally minutes.”
That solution comes in the form of a 16-gauge metal bar, built to bend and fit under the hinge of the lid. The bars are powder-coated to protect against potential wear-and-tear, and come in single and double sizes.
Propping open garbage bins is possible in Lethbridge because they don’t need a bear latch; for communities in closer to wildlife, it’s trickier.
“Bear safety is very important,” he said. “It’s not recommended for bear or rodent situations.”
The Government of Alberta website outlines the importance of having fully-latched bins in communities where wildlife is prominent:
“Improperly stored garbage is the most common cause of human-bear conflicts. Storing garbage out of the reach of bears:
- can prevent them from returning to your home, ranch or camp in search of food
- forces bears to seek out natural food sources away from human-use places
- minimizes the potential for property damage caused by wildlife
Remember that bear-resistant bins must be properly latched and regularly cleaned to prevent the odours that attract bears.”
Cummins says once Haul-All helps the City of Lethbridge complete the installation of the metal door props, they may consider bringing the device to other communities.