April 14, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Garbage management in Latin Quarter: Semi-buried and “intelligent” bins like in Europe, one restaurant calls

Garbage management in Latin Quarter: Semi-buried and "intelligent" bins like in Europe, one restaurant calls

In Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels a lot, his desk in his backpack, looking for fascinating things and people. He talks to everyone and is interested in all areas of this town's history.

Can half-buried garbage cans lead to illegal dumping and orphaned bags littering the earth and worsening the environment?

This is proposed by Guylaine Duchesne, owner of Vego restaurant (formerly Commensal) on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal's Latin Quarter, a tourist district with a high density of restaurants and residents.

I went for a walk with her near her business.

“At Jean-Mance, next to the HLM of Habitations, semi-buried bins solved the problem. Residents throw their waste there whenever they want and it doesn't smell anymore,” said Mme Duchesne shows me a device she wants to find somewhere in her neighborhood.

These bins cover pits a few meters deep that keep the garbage cool.

Louis-Philippe Messier

“Why doesn't the city use this simple system?” The restaurant, which pays more than $1,000 a month, is asked to empty the “above ground” bins adjacent to its back terrace once a week.


Ms. Duchesne, as a merchant, had to pay for her own bin collection, but, instead of locking it like the others, she left it open so that residents could dump their trash into it instead of next to it…

Louis-Philippe Messier

In an alley that opens onto Rue Émery, bins are stacked like sardines, locked to prevent residents from putting their bags in them.


This alley in the Latin Quarter is packed like sardines with its padlocked crates…

Louis-Philippe Messier

“For my part, I keep my bins unlocked, even if I'm the one paying, otherwise people leave their bags around,” she laments.

There is no worst day

Unlike the “above ground” tanks we are used to that cook in the sun and emit aromas, in-ground tanks are naturally cooled by geothermal energy.


At this depth in the ground, the waste stays cool even in summer and the lack of light slows decomposition…which prevents odors.

Louis-Philippe Messier

When these in-ground bins are equipped with a sensor that alerts you when it's time to empty, the worst day can disappear. It is already almost everywhere in Amsterdam. Everyone throws their bags whenever they want in the semi-buried container.

Waste is protected from vermin. When it is sufficiently full, the city is notified by an automatic signal emitted by the ferry. A truck arrives to empty the waterproof bag.

And there, a roaring, iron-jawed truck with sweating, gasping men running.

An evolving idea

“Last fall I saw half-buried bins in Porto[in Portugal]in front of my hotel and it was very impressive… because it prevents people from leaving their bags for days between collections and it prevents smells,” Mitchell said. Lavallee, owner of L'Île Noire pub.

A Quebec company, Containers Totem, prides itself on manufacturing 100% semi-buried containers here in Sherbrooke:

“It's a much more subtle technology than it appears at first glance,” CEO Paul Ohmann told me.

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“The secret is that, thanks to a device, the waterproof bag opens from the bottom and can be emptied without tipping it. Therefore the old waste comes first without pouring its juice on top of the fresh waste and flowing into the top of the bag.

M wishme Can Duchesne and Mr. Lavalle be heard?

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