Solid Waste & Recycling


New Toronto 60 per cent diversion report

City of Toronto staff have submitted their new report "Getting to 60 per cent Diversion and Beyond." The...

City of Toronto staff have submitted their new report "Getting to 60 per cent Diversion and Beyond." The purpose of the report is to outline the major initiatives that will be required if the city is to achieve 60 per cent waste diversion (part of a longer-term goal to divert all waste from landfill by 2010).

The report offers a fascinating glimpse into the initial activities and planning of a major North American city dedicated to total waste diversion. Apprarently the most viable new and emerging technologies that would handle the remianing 40 per cent of waste not easily diverted are mainly thermal (e.g., gasification). The city’s contract with Republic that receives waste residue at a Michigan landfill prohibits Toronto considering outright incineration. The contract is up for renewal or consideration in 2005.

The report is subject to approval by city council, and staff will report further requesting specific approval for the individual diversion initiatives and will identify any financial commitments necessary at that time. Council has apparently rejected staff’s recommendation that the city invest in a pilot plant to demonstrate new and emerging technology, and is instead directing staff to prepare to submit plans for the complete solution to the province’s Environmental Assessment process, once it’s deemed that the EA process is repaired. (Ontario is currently establishing a special committe to make EA process recommendations.) This decision could favor a non-thermal process like extensive centralized manual and mechanical secondary waste separation and recycling, but no one knows for sure.

In 2001, council adopted the recommendations of Waste Diversion Task Force 2010, setting waste diversion goods of 30, 60 and 100 per cent by 2003, 2006 and 2010 respectively.

The city has exceeded its goal of 30 per cent residential waste diversion by 2003. In 2003, approximately 287,000 tonnes of residential waste resources were diverted from landfill, which represents a residential diversion rate of 32 per cent. The rate is a combined diversion rate for single-family and multi-family residences. The individual diversion rates are 43 per cent for single-family homes and 12 per cent for multi-family dwellings. Homes participating in the Green Bin Program are exceeding 50 per cent diversion.

Council approved diversion initiatives, such as rolling-out the Green Bin program to all remaining single-family homes in the city (Toronto, East York and York in October 2004 and North York in 2005), and improving recovery of recyclables is expected to get Toronto to a combined diversion rate of 41 per cent. Staff have worked with the New and Emerging Technologies, Policies and Practices Advisory Group to develop further initiatives to maximize the quantity of material diverted to meet or exceed 60 per cent diversion.

Major initiatives will be required to achieve the level of 60 per cent diversion set by council. The key residential diversion initiatives that have been identified in the Getting to 60 per cent and Beyond report are as follows:

Increasing the Recovery of Recyclables in Apartments;
Mandatory Diversion Programs and Enforcement;
Reduced Bag Limits/Excess Bag Fees;
Single Stream Recycling and New Recycling Containers;
Addition of More Materials to the Recycling Program;
Implementation of SSO Programs in Apartments;
Reuse Centres and Diversion of Durable Goods.

These major residential diversion initiatives will all need to be implemented if the city is to achieve 60 per cent diversion. If achieved, the remaining 40 per cent residual waste will be processed through the use of new and emerging technology.

Staff note that continuing to ship the city’s waste to Michigan landfill is tenuous and every effort must be made to divert as much waste as possible from landfill. As well, source separation programs, such as those recommended in the Getting to 60 per cent and Beyond report should be employed before Toronto utilizes new and emerging technologies for its waste.

A level of 60 per cent waste diversion, before new and emerging technologies are employed, cannot be achieved if all the initiatives in the Getting to 60 per cent and Beyond report are not ultimately implemented.

(More report details below the contact info.)

Contact Geoff Rathbone, Director of Policy and Planning, Solid Waste Management Services at 416-392-4715 or at

Further details from the report:

Increasing the Recovery of Recyclables in Apartments

1. The City mandate that apartment owners provide adequate recycling container capacity to enable residents to fully participate in the recycling program, with failure to comply resulting in suspension from City waste collection services for a minimum three-month period.

2. Collection from apartments on a cart system be changed to a bulk container system where feasible, to increase the capture of recyclable materials, such as large pieces of cardboard, and to improve collection efficiencies.

Mandatory Diversion Programs and Enforcement

3. The City hire 25 By-Law Compliance Officers and associated managerial and administrative support in 2005, to enforce the mandatory diversion procedures outlined in this report for single-family and multi-family residences.

4. The City’s residential collection by-law be amended to require the source separation of Green Bin organics once the Green Bin program is fully implemented in single-family homes across the City. SSO collection in apartments will be mandatory once an SSO program is implemented in the building.

5. The City investigate the feasibility of requiring that bags of residual waste put out for collection be translucent to ensure they do not contain recyclable or organic materials.

Waste Limits/ Fees

6. A hybrid Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program which features a limit of 3 bags per bi-weekly collection funded through the tax base and a charge (tags purchased from the City) for each bag or item collected above that set-out rate be implemented for single-family residences in 2006. Recycling and SSO collection would be provided at no charge.

7. The City provide phased implementation of a PAYT program (e.g., free tags) in 2006 to allow single-family residents to adjust to the program, followed by full implementation in 2007.

8. A PAYT program be fully implemented for apartments in 2005 with no phase-in period, as diversion rates are significantly lower in apartments (12per cent) than single-family residences (43per cent).

Single Stream Recycling and New Recycling Containers

9. The City convert all residences to single stream recycling and inform residents of the change in January 2005.

10. The City implement an automated recycling cart pilot involving a total of 3600 homes (six routes) in a cross section of areas including areas of traditionally poor recyclers, areas of average recyclers and areas with on-street parking, in early 2005.

11. Following analysis of the cart pilots and other alternatives such as allowing the use of special recycling bags for overflow material, switching to weekly recycling collection or providing more blue boxes, the City implement a system that provides residents with adequate capacity for their recyclables.

Addition of More Materials

12. The City issue a Request for Quotations for plastic tubs and lids and add this material to the Blue Box program in January 2005, if a viable bid from a stable market results.

13. Subject to the existence of a stable market for plastic film, this material be added to the City’s Blue Box program once a new container system that will provide residents with the necessary capacity for their recyclables is implemented.

14. The City include ceramics and other types of traditionally non-recyclable glass as a
n option in its RFQ for mixed glass for the period 2005-2010.

15. The City monitor polystyrene markets and conduct further evaluatio
n of the impact polystyrene has on sorting/processing operations.

Implementation of SSO Programs in Apartments

16. Source separated organics (SSO) pilots be implemented in 50 multi-residential buildings by 2006, including high-rises, low-rises, Toronto Community Housing buildings and townhouse complexes, using various collection techniques.

17. The City send test loads of apartment mixed waste to the mixed waste facility operated by Conporec in Quebec, to determine whether this is a viable contingency method in the event that SSO collection is not suitable for all apartments.

18. Subject to the pilots demonstrating that SSO collection and processing is viable for apartments and a Waste Limit/Fees policy being in place, the main rollout of SSO collection in apartments commence in 2007 and be phased in according to the following schedule: District 4 2007; District 2 2008; District 3 2009; District 1 2010.

19. The Provincial Minister of the Environment be requested to adopt the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines for compost, including any future changes adopted by CCME.

Reuse Centres and Diversion of Reusable Goods

20. The City establish a reusable goods drop-off centre in 2005 to provide residents with a one-stop location for reusable goods. Various charitable organizations would pick up the accumulated items. Depending on the success of the initial reusable goods drop-off centre, the City would establish drop-off centres at other locations and possibly a large reuse centre (operated in co-operation with charitable organizations) that would accept reusable goods and then re-sell them to the public.

21. The City request the Provincial Minister of Environment to designate, under the Waste Diversion Act, electronics, mattresses, furniture and carpets as types of waste that require manufacturers of these items to meet recycling targets and share with municipalities the cost of diverting these items from landfill.

22. The City conduct a scrap metal collection pilot involving approximately 20,000 homes in 2005. The materials collected would include smaller scrap metal items such as computers and electronic equipment, copper pipes, door hinges, forks and knives, pots and pans, nails, metal light fixtures, nuts and bolts, coat hangers, taps, wire and lawn chairs.

23. The City conduct an evaluation of the feasibility of expanding a separate scrap metal collection to include reusable goods such as reusable clothing, sporting goods, toys, small appliances, furniture, bedding, building materials such as kitchen cupboards, bathroom fixtures, lighting, windows and doors, and electronics such as televisions, telephones, VCRs and DVDs.

Public Space Litter and Recyclables

24. The City request the Provincial Minister of Environment to designate litter, under the Waste Diversion Act, as a type of waste that requires manufacturers of products contributing to litter to meet recycling targets and share with municipalities the cost of diverting these items from landfill.

Program Support Recommendations of the New and Emerging Technologies Advisory Group

25. The City support the recommendations of the New and Emerging Technologies, Policies and Practices Advisory Group related to ensuring effective implementation of diversion programs, as described in Appendix A.

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