As reported recently in the Toronto Star newspaper, the City of Toronto’s fledgling green bin program for organics waste diversion is facing a challenge, though staff expect things to improve. Toronto’s Dufferin Organics Processing Facility is coping with too many contaminants and, according to a city report, 25 per cent of the material received is rejected and trucked to a Michigan landfill. Only 25 per cent is composted into a sold amendment; the balance ends up as methane gas or effluent sent to the municipal sewer system.
Observers feel the 25 per cent contamination rate is too high, and should eventually drop to about 10 per cent as residents learn what to put in their green bins. One problem has been the plastic grocery bags people use to deposit their food scraps and other organic material. The city is currently looking to see if the bags can be recycled.
The Dufferin facility has been fully running since last May, with a capacity of 25,000 tonnes per year. The city is looking potentially doubling that capacity, at which point the city will be able to produce electricity from the methane gas rather than just flare it off as happens now. The March 8, 2005 staff report to the Works Committee "SSO Public Facility Business Plan — Preliminary Evaluation of Dufferin" provides an update on the plant’s anaerobic system that processes Green Bin organics. The facility is a demonstration plant that is not currently of an economic scale to install electric conversion systems to permit the capture of methane to produce electricity.
Environmentalist Gord Perks of the Toronto Environmental Alliance says the good news is that the diversion rate for single-family dwellings in Toronto is 49 per cent, a high rate for any North American city.
Councilor Jane Pitfield, Chair of the Works Committee says that Toronto’s Dufferin Organics Processing Facility is working as expected and according to plan.