The City of Markham, just outside Toronto, has reached an 81 per cent waste diversion rate months ahead of its ambitious target.
Since 2006, Markham has maintained an average 72 per cent curb side diversion rate, but wanted to aim higher.
The city’s more immediate success was bolstered through the use of garbage tags.
“Our residents take a great deal of pride in our community and have shown an outstanding commitment to Markham’s environmental care,” said Mayor Frank Scarpitti at an August 14, 2013 press conference. “I thank the residents for all their efforts in encouraging Markham toward being one of the most sustainable communities in North America.”
In 2012, Markham Council approved an ambitious new curbside diversion strategy: The Best of the Best – Markham’s Roadmap to 80 per cent Diversion. The strategy highlighted 10 points that could be implemented in 2012 to bring the City’s curb side diversion rate to 80 per cent by 2014.
As of June 2013, Markham achieved an 81 per cent diversion rate, well ahead of schedule. This positions Markham residents as the ‘Best of the Best’ in curb side diversion in Canada and among the top municipalities in all of North America.
A significant element of the strategy was the mandatory requirement for all Markham residents to begin using clear garbage bags as of April 30, 2013. In addition, the city abolished the three-bag limit and tag program, allowing residents to put out an unlimited quantity of separated, non-recyclable garbage in clear bags each waste collection day. To date, Markham is the largest municipality in Ontario to adopt a clear bag program.
“Our goal of an 80 per cent diversion rate was very ambitious and to have surpassed it months ahead of schedule is truly remarkable,” said Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Chair of the Curb Side Diversion Sub-Committee. “Switching to clear bags has proven to be a powerful aspect of our curb side diversion strategy, encouraging all of us to be more diligent in sorting and separating materials. Clear bags also help keep collectors safe from dangerous objects and make it easier to monitor garbage for misplaced recyclables and other items banned from disposal.”
Non-compliant bags that contain 25 per cent recyclable (one quarter) or prohibited materials will be left behind with educational material.
Quick Facts about Markham’s Curb Side Diversion Program
- Weekly Blue Box and Green Bin collection and biweekly collection of residue to approximately 79,000 homes
- Yard waste is collected every other week from April to November
- Approximately 12,500 multi-residential apartment/townhouse units in over 76 buildings receive weekly recycling collection
- Approximately 2,460 multi-residential units receive organics collection
- All 25 Separate Schools in Markham receive weekly recycling collection
- 10 zero waste YRSB schools
- Markham‘s BIA‘s (Business Improvement Areas) receive weekly collection of recycling, cardboard and residue.
- Over 1,500 Canada Post super mailboxes receive recycling collection YearMarkham residents have five Community Recycling Depots – more than any other community.
- Over 120,000 Markham residents recycle at the depots annually.
The Recycling Depots augment Markham‘s diversion by accepting:
o All Blue Box materials
o Scrap Metal
o Cell Phones
o Ink Cartridges
o Plastic Bags
o Polystyrene Plastic #6
o Used Clothing
o Fluorescent Tubes
o Rechargeable Batteries
The 10 Points of Markham’s Curb side diversion Strategy:
- Mandatory Material Separation Bylaw
- Unlimited Clear Bags for Residue
- Expanded Textile/Carpet Diversion Program
- Zero Waste for Schools Program
- Establish Retail Bag Policy
- Enhanced Promotion and Education
- Reuse Depot for Renovation Materials
- Curb side Electronics and Battery Collection Ban
- Establish Spring and Fall clean-up days
- Expanded Fall Leaf/Yard Waste Collection
Read "The Best of the Best — Markham’s Roadmap to 80 per cent Diversion," Markham’s complete 10-point curb side diversion.