Negotiations over a long-term contract to rail haul the City of Toronto’s waste to the Adams Mine landfill (600 kilometres north near Kirkland Lake) came off the rails in late October. City council had approved the disposal megaproject on October 11 after a weeklong debate. But Rail*Cycle*North (the consortium that includes Canadian Waste Services Inc.) was asked to remove a clause that required the city to accept responsibility for certain “unavoidable” future cost increases. This included such items as unforeseeable future provincial or federal regulation.
The mayor’s office gave the consortium only a few days to revise the contract. The consortium balked since the parties had already agreed that a final deal would only be signed after side agreements were negotiated with York Region and Durham Region (on Toronto’s northern edge). It appears that controversy over the contract, which erupted just before municipal elections in November, caused Mayor Mel Lastman — who was formerly in favour of the project — to look for a way out.
Toronto currently ships its municipal solid waste to the city’s Keele Valley Landfill in Vaughan, Ontario and to Onyx North America’s landfill in Arbor Hills, Michigan. The Keele landfill is scheduled to close in 2002. The city now intends to deal with Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Republic Services Inc. which owns landfills in Michigan and has offered a competitive tip fee of $50.75 per tonne from Toronto transfer stations. (The Rail*Cycle*North fee was $51.02, including the 3 per cent municipal component of GST.) Republic already won the contract to handle Toronto’s commercial waste in 2003.
“Public outcry against the northern landfill disposal scheme renewed interest in Toronto’s waste diversion undertakings.”
The new plan for municipal and IC&I garbage will work annually as follows. The city has executed contracts with Republic Services of Canada Inc. and Wilson Logistics Inc. for the transportation and disposal of solid waste at the Carleton Farms Landfill in Sumpter Township, Michigan. Under the contract, the city is obligated to provide a minimum of 285,000 tonnes in 2001 and 2002 for disposal. In 2003, the guaranteed minimum reduces to 100,000 tonnes. The impact of reducing the volume of solid waste received at Keele Valley by 285,000 tonnes in 2001 and 2002 will extend the site’s service life to the last quarter of 2002.
“The extension of Keele Valley’s service life represents the best optimum financial return for the city, due to the relatively short haulage distance and low disposal cost,” says Lawson Oates, with the Solid Waste Division of the Toronto Works Department.
The public outcry against the northern landfill disposal scheme had the side effect of renewing interest in Toronto’s waste diversion undertakings. Following its Solid Waste Management Marketplace Engagement Process, now called the Toronto Integrated Solid Waste Resource Management Process (TIRM), city council voted to increase recycling from 25 to 60 per cent by 2006 and to 80 per cent by 2009. It even suggested that all municipal waste could be recycled and composted by 2010.
“City Council suggests that all municipal waste could be recycled and composted by 2010.”
Blue Box collection will shift from biweekly to weekly and polycoat containers, empty paint cans and aerosol cans will be added. The large number of apartment buildings in Toronto pose a challenge to the 3Rs plan. A proposed property bylaw will require owners of existing multi-residential buildings to make recycling more convenient.
Alternative long-term projects also hold promise. In cooperation with Enwave District Energy Ltd. the city will study the feasibility of an anaerobic digestion facility to process 150,000 tonnes of waste (about 15 per cent of the municipal waste stream) and use it to generate biogas for energy.
Also, the “anaerobic digestion facility” at the Dufferin transfer station may be put into full-scale operation to process up to 160,000 tonnes of waste (i.e., roughly 16 per cent of the waste stream). (See articles in the “Composting Systems & Services” supplement in the August/September edition.)
Toronto is evaluating environmentally progressive systems in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Edmonton, Alberta. Negotiations have been approved with Markham, Ontario-based Miller Waste Systems, which uses the Ebara in-vessel technology, to process source-separated organics and yard waste. The technology has been in use in Halifax since an organics ban took effect in November 30, 1998. (See “Halifax’s Organic System” in the June/July 1999 edition.)
Mayor Lastman recently visited Edmonton’s MRF and state-of-the-art co-composting facility. The city boasts an 80 per cent recycling rate and plans to attain 70 per cent diversion this year — well over the national target of 50 per cent. (See “Composting Matters” column, page 24.) Even though Edmonton’s system costs $62 per tonne (versus Toronto’s $72), the mayor conceded to his hosts, “What you do here is terrific…Will it work where there is over a million tonnes of garbage a year? That we have to find out.”
Connie Vitello is editor of this magazine.