The City of Toronto has set up a task force to outline the city’s plan to reach zero waste by 2010. The Task Force 2010 plan calls for a solid waste diversion rate of 30 per cent by 2003, 60 per cent by 2006 and 100 per cent by 2010. In 2000 the city recycled, reused or composted 24 per cent of the approximately one million tonnes of waste generated by Toronto households. The recently expanded Blue Box program now allows for empty, dry paint cans, aerosol cans, milk and juice cartons, and drink boxes. (See Regulation Roundup, page 16.) According to Councillor Betty Disero, chair of the task force, waste disposal costs are currently about $90 per household annually, but estimates show that costs will more than double by 2010 if the city stays on course with its plan.
The task force announcements come as environmental activists are blasting the city for exporting waste to a Detroit, Michigan landfill. On the other side of the border, Russell Harding, head of Michigan’s environment department, has written Environment Minister David Anderson and Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley demanding an environmental assessment. He contends that Toronto is dumping waste that doesn’t meet with U.S. environmental standards. According to Councillor Jack Layton, who spearheaded the protest against the previous plan to ship garbage to the Northern Ontario Adams Mine landfill, this is likely political coercion. A recent report reveals that staff of Premier Mike Harris provided information used in a letter from Michigan Governor John Engler to Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman, pleading with him to reopen the Adams Mine deal. The $1-billion deal to rail haul waste to the landfill was terminated last fall by city council, but the province — a partner in the Ontario Northland Railway — has been a supporter of the landfill plan. (See “Garbage Train Derailed” in the December/January 2001edition.)
Mayor Lastman wrote to U.S. President George W. Bush on March 14 arguing that Michigan cannot block waste import. In March, the state asked for an environmental review of Toronto garbage shipments. (Michigan has beverage containers on deposit.) Toronto city council, facing a $340-million budget deficit, cut $8-million from recycling and composting services. As of June 1, cuts will include weekly pick-up in certain places, the trucking of 80,000 tonnes a year of restaurant waste to a composting facility, and $500,000 in new recycling pilot projects. City councillors such as Jack Layton have urged residents to participate in a campaign to dump their empty wine and liquor bottles outside government-owned LCBO stores instead of in their Blue Boxes. The company that previously recycled them has relocated to Quebec and now charges $35 a tonne for disposal. Revenue losses combined with the cost of shipping the bottles to Quebec would cost the city almost $300,000 a year. Every year Toronto generates over 800,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste of which 24 per cent is diverted from landfill.
See www.city.toronto.on.ca or call 416-392-8301