The City of Toronto has announced that residents will gradually have to lower the amount of garbage they set at the curb from the current six-bag limit to five in April, 2005, and four by April, 2007. Even the 2007 limit will seem excessively generous to waste managers and residents of other municipalities where one- and two-bag limits have proven successful in encouraging homeowners to recycle and compost more waste. It must be remembered, however, that Toronto collects non-recyclable, non-compostable bags of trash only every second week. (Recyclables and compostables are collected weekly.)
Earlier staff proposals to pursue a more aggressive pay-as-you-throw bag tag scheme (sometimes called “user-pay systems”)were rejected by Council, which was afraid of a public backlash. City staff continue to argue that a bag-tag system would be effective in helping the city achieve its goal of 60 per cent waste diversion by 2008, noting that as things stand today, on average people only set out two bags on the biweekly collection day. More than 140 other Ontario municipalities currently use bag-tag systems.
For details about user-pay systems in Canada, see the cover story of the August/September edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine.