Distribution of bear-resistant roll carts begins

An Alaska Waste employee unloads new bear-proof roll carts on Larch Street on Wednesday.

Alaska Waste employees began replacing existing roll carts with bear-resistant carts on Wednesday morning, distributing the new bins from the back of a U-Haul truck as they made their way down Larch Street. 

As part of the new contract between Alaska Waste and the Kodiak Island Borough, the new roll carts will be distributed from now until early summer. 

Wednesday’s distribution began on Larch Street, Madsen Avenue and Purtov Street, David Edwards, Alaska Waste’s site manager, said in an email. 

“We have 1,600 (new) roll carts on the island,” he said. 

Although the new contract takes effect on July 1, Alaska Waste has already begun replacing the roll carts to “hopefully mitigate any bear-related issues,” he wrote in the email. 

The only streets in the area not receiving the new roll carts will be those with high bear activity, including Hillside Drive, Sharatin Road, Selief Lane, Mylark Lane, Lynden Way, Bonaparte Circle and Mozart Circle. Instead, these areas have 20-yard residential roll off containers, and residents must self-haul their trash to one of the drop-off locations. 

Edwards said the new roll carts are “totally different” from those being replaced.

The new roll carts are opened by pressing a latch, and when the lid is shut forcefully, the roll cart automatically latches shut. With the automatic latch and the sturdiness of the new roll carts, Edwards said they are less likely to be pushed over by the wind, mitigating issues with trash blowing down the street. 

He noted that the roll carts are only bear-resistant if the lid is securely closed and latched. 

Nick Szabo, the chairman of the Solid Waste Advisory Board, said discussions about how to deter bears from getting into garbage cans have been in the works for a while. 

“It’s not a silver bullet, but we hope it will help things. It will help the general waste collection system with having a more secure roll cart,” said Szabo.

The switch-over from the existing lightweight roll carts to the heavy-duty bear-resistant roll carts resulted from collaboration between the Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska Waste and the Kodiak Solid Waste Advisory board following years of discussions. 

Recommendations to completely remove roll carts in high-bear-activity areas were made by the Solid Waste Advisory Board with input from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. After the contract was signed between the borough and Alaska Waste, the company voluntarily offered to provide the other residents with bear-resistant bins.  

“The bear-resistant roll carts are going to be a bonus to the residents of Kodiak,” said Dave Conrad, director of the Kodiak Island Borough Department of Engineering and Facilities. 

He said the new bins will improve service and minimize the number of incidents in which bears tip them over. 

Conrad noted that with the new contract, garbage collection rates are projected to decrease by about $20. These rates will be reviewed when the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly holds budget discussions. 

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