Police said the man was likely picked up from a bin in the Parkdale area by a green truck from garbage-hauling company Wasteco.
The driver heard the man banging from inside the truck as he prepared to pick up a few more cans around Queen Street West and Ossington Street.
"I didn’t even know he was there," said Chris Deacon, the garbage truck driver. "I got to another call. That's when I heard the banging on the side of the truck."
The driver then stopped in an alleyway off of Queen Street West and found the man inside the truck.
"At first he just said: 'Get me out of here.' Then when I went and opened up the side door, he said: 'I think I need an ambulance.' "
After a few more stops, the driver would have likely compacted his trash load, which police say would have likely crushed and killed the man.
Art Johnson, another driver with Wasteco, said he has had a few close calls as well.
"I've had people jumping out of bins as I'm picking them up, numerous times," Johnson said. "And they're just lucky they got out in time before I dumped them in the truck."
The man was taken to Toronto Western Hospital with cuts and scrapes to his hands at around 4:30 a.m. and is expected to be OK.