Solid Waste & Recycling



Building development specifications traditionally required a "garbage chute" to meet fire code; it usually included a trash compactor. Today a recycling sorter system and bins are the norm. To improve waste diversion, establishing a...

Building development specifications traditionally required a “garbage chute” to meet fire code; it usually included a trash compactor. Today a recycling sorter system and bins are the norm. To improve waste diversion, establishing a thoughtfully designed infrastructure (beginning in each suite and supported by effective promotion and education) will produce results.

Garbage chute design

Garbage chutes include a baffle (flap) behind each chute door. This creates a “trap zone” for materials placed there by residents. A resident’s source-separation efforts will be compromised by “trapping” (diagram two) as subsequent users discharge these materials into the wrong bin below — cross contaminating.

When a multiple-material chute/sorter system is installed, a “flapless fire-rated chute door” solves this trapping design flaw.

Toronto’s Green Development Standard proposes the use of separate chutes to address the issue. Developers tend to prefer sorters as they save space and revenue on all floors.

Safe functional system design

Garbage chutes converted for multiple material use instruct users to “push the flap” as a remedy; however a safety issue exists as descending materials from floors above may cause injury. A chute designed with a “sloped throat” alleviates the trapping phenomenon.

Historically, compactor bins positioned the operator away from materials coming down the chute during container exchanges. However, with a tri-sorter, operator proximity to the chute is closer, increasing risk. The solution is “lockable chute intake doors” with programmed and manual override controls. During container exchange the operator renders the system inaccessible to users.

Lockable door program system benefits

A lockable door system and flexible “Intelli-Gen PLC Program” incorporates many benefits:

• Hours of use are integrated — eliminating nighttime noise.

• System blockage and damage are reduced by a brief “lockout access delay,” during the “deflector plate transition” period.

• The control panel modem “auto lockdown system” indentifies and remotely notifies staff of all maintenance issues, limiting downtime.

• Multiple floor simultaneous access is available for the “engaged stream” (lit button) selection, with “programmed lockout” for other streams — controlling contamination.

Basic “Staff Managed” Deflector Systems

Alternatively, a simple staff-managed operational protocol can offer buildings an inexpensive successful diversion program. This concept integrates separate stream storage containers on each floor and a timetable when staff uses the chute.

Staff engages a deflector plate above the compactor, depositing diverted materials down the chute into the correct bin, on a timetable. An interface between building management, staff and residents is thus created (similar to curbside single-family collections).

This cost-effective option has widespread retrofit potential.

Information supplied by Doug King, Director of Business Development with Metro Compactor Group in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Doug at

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