As Michigan lawmakers get set to advance a package of bills aimed at preventing the City of Toronto’s solid waste from disposal in Michigan landfills, officials representing the city told members of the Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs that waste amounts bound for Michigan would decline beginning this year and would be eliminated by 2010, according to a plan approved by Toronto City Council. The comprehensive plan the Task Force 2010 Report was enacted two years ago, setting aggressive waste reduction and diversion targets for the City: 30 per cent by 2003; 60 per cent by 2006 and 100 per cent diversion from landfill by 2010.
The Toronto plan includes a combination of recycling, composting and technology that is regarded as the most aggressive in North America including:
Recycling a wider range of materials through mandatory use of the Blue Box program (curbside recycling);
Source separating organics (food, garden and wet paper waste, diapers) by all single family households in the GTA by 2006, as well as by multi-family households and apartment dwellers; and
Implementing bag limits, mandatory recycling and variable rate pricing programs designed to spur recycling and composting.
Reducing garbage collection service to once every two weeks to encourage recycling and composting; and
Using new and emerging technologies to handle the residual waste stream (approximately 40 percent) after recycling and composting have been maximized.
Already, the program has been successful in achieving significant increases in recycling, removing household organics (food and garden waste) and increasing composting. Toronto is on track to exceed its 30 per cent diversion target for 2003. By contrast, Michigan recycling rates barely approach 20 percent, according to estimates by the Michigan Recycling Partnership.
“To end our reliance on Michigan landfills as soon as possible, our commitment to Michigan is to do what needs to be done to handle waste in our own community,” said Geoff Rathbone, Director of Solid Waste Planning for the City of Toronto. “The current situation is not in the long term best interest of the residents of Toronto, and it’s disconcerting to the people of Michigan.”
“Toronto residents and all Ontarians are proud of our reputation around the world as leaders in waste management policies and practices. Our citizens demand high standards for recycling and reuse. As a government, we dedicate substantial resources to these efforts, and we will require that product manufacturers assist with ‘take back’ programs and community recycling program financing. We must resolve the current crisis and take responsibility for managing our own waste disposal needs. The City of Toronto program in place now will allow us to achieve this goal.”
The October/November edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine will feature an in-depth article on Toronto’s waste diversion plans.
Contact Geoff Rathbone, Director, Solid Waste Planning, City of Toronto, 416-392-4715