HazMat Magazine, 9/22/2008
Toronto packaging waste forum: report
City of Toronto is developing several strategies for achieving its
aggressive 70 per cent waste reduction target (Target 70), and will use
its City of Toronto Act (COTA) to impose bans, fees and other tools.
Geoff Rathbone, general manager of the City of Toronto's Solid Waste
Management Services, told the Toronto Packaging Waste Reduction Forum
-- an event that drew 130 participants on September 10, 2008 -- that
the City currently provides waste management services to over 1,000,000
homes and businesses. This includes 500,000 single family homes,
510,000 multi-unit dwellings, and 20,000 small commercial enterprises.
The City also manages 5,000 litter and recycling bins in public spaces,
handles the waste of city agencies, boards, commissions and divisions
and accepts some private commercial and industrial water at transfer
Currently, all this waste is shipped to Michigan in approximately 80
trucks a day -- a number that is down from its peak of 142 trucks a day
in 2001. However, on December 31, 2010 all waste shipments to Michigan
will cease. Toronto's new Green Lane landfill, officially acquired on
April 2, 2007 will assume the responsibility. The state-of-the-art
facility includes landfill gas management and leachate management
systems. But perhaps the main difference between the Michigan site and
the Green Lane site is that while the Michigan site is tonnage-based,
the Green Lane site will be volume-based. At current diversion rates,
Green Lane would reach its capacity in 2024. However, if the City of
Toronto is able to meet its Target 70, Green Lane could remain in
operation until 2034.
Target 70 initiatives that the City of Toronto are planning to
implement include a source reduction strategy where residents will
subscribe to a volume-based waste bin (small, medium, large and extra
large). For example, if a household is able to limit its waste to one
small bin every two weeks, it will receive a $10 rebate on its
municipal taxes. A large bin, on the other hand, requires $99 extra
payment per year. The program is expected to generate $54 million per
year to pay for new diversion services. The City also plans to expand
curbside recycling by adding new materials such as polystyrene and
plastic film to blue bin programs. It also plans to more than double
the number of recycling bins in public spaces, from 5,000 to 12,000.
The City will also expand green bin programs to apartments,
condominiums and townhouses and expand household hazardous waste
The City is also developing a plan to reduce 10,000 tonnes, or one per
cent of diversion, of in-store packaging. In-store packaging includes
hot drink cups, plastic retail carry-out bags and plastic take-out
containers. The City will explore options to reduce this waste,
including voluntary initiatives and regulation powers the City now has
under the COTA. Policy options under the COTA include bans, fees,
charges and taxes, licensing powers for deposit-return and
Key policy principles that the city is maintaining while developing its
strategies include encouraging consumers to exhibit reduction and reuse
behavior. Strategies should also encourage corporate decision-makers to
make their product packaging compatible with Toronto's recycling
program. The initiatives should not increase average baseline prices
for products or place 416-businesses at competitive disadvantages.
Above all, new strategies should maximize resident convenience and
municipal efficiency, while maintaining Waste Diversion Ontario funding.
The City Toronto's next steps include conducting focus groups, meeting
with its 3Rs Citizen Committee Research Group and preparing a report
for City Council.
EcoLog.com's Web editor Jennifer Holloway attended the Packaging Waste
Reduction Forum on September 10, 2008. Over the coming weeks, she will
continue to post features that highlight the issues discussed at the
Next week, Forum Summary Notes, including a list of attendees
will also be posted at the above website.
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