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Re: [greenyes] Re: Toronto's plans

One observation about Toronto.

The program is completely premised on the traditional municipal waste collection and management system. It is built around municipal infrastructure subsidized in a very minor way by an organization (the WDO) that is empowered to charge fees that must be paid by the producers of recyclable products and packaging (NOTE: the system bizarrely puts the cost burden specifically on companies that make products that can be recycled -- driving any rational company to quickly switch to non-recyclable designs, since these are NOT charged a levy! I'm not making this up.)

The Toronto vision of Zero Waste is a fantasy based on the fallacy that cities and towns can end waste simply by picking it all up and -- doing whatever they can as long as you don't call it landfilling or incineration. You can be darned sure that a whole host of "emerging industries" like the one touted by Kay Martin ("Recycling the Hierarchy") are just standing in line waiting to offer the perfect solution to Toronto and other cities and towns who believe that they can deliver "Zero Waste". There is no way that cities and towns are going to be able to make silk purses out of all those sows' ears.

Guys, there's no way any city or town -- or, god help me, even any "sacred vessel" like EcoCycle or Eureka -- can be the instrument of Zero Waste. These organizations, for all the best reasons in the world are the enablers of our society's addiction to waste. By cleaning up after the corporations that profit from convenience, public "Zero Waste" programs in fact ensure that waste will always be with us.

As Paul Hawken has tried to get us to understand: we have to get the industrial system to clean up after itself, not clean up after it.


At 04:03 PM 2/12/2004, Mike Garfield wrote:

A little more info on Toronto's plans: Their zero waste goal does not
include export to Michigan or anywhere else. It's a real zero waste goal.

The open question now is how hard they'll try to reach zero. I participated
in an Ontario forum with City officials two months ago. At that time, they
reported that their pilot organics program (in a couple neighborhoods) is
going well, and they hope for citywide coverage within a couple years.
Their multi-family and business recycling collection programs could use some
work, but they're included in the plans. They'll have investment decisions
to make over the next several years that will be important.

The disturbing part of their presentation is where they go after 60%.
They're now arguing they won't be able to get beyond 60% with traditional
recycling and organics programs, and they'll have to then employ "emerging
technologies." Developers were still promoting an incinerator in the City,
and a landfill in northern Ontario.

This is going to be an interesting program to watch. Toronto now has a lot
of political will to move toward zero waste. They're calculating their
recovery percentages carefully, and taking their progress very seriously.
It's very unclear, though, how far they'll push. And there are powerful
interests pushing back in the other direction. Meanwhile, the environmental
community in Toronto and Michigan will be holding the City's feet to the
Mike Garfield
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 ext. 104
(734) 663-2414 (fax)

> At 09:23 PM 02/10/2004 -0600, David Wood wrote:
>> Does anyone know whether this means "zero waste" to Toronto landfills
>> and all the rest to Michigan's landfills? You can't export your way to
>> zero waste. Thanks for calling this to our attention Marjorie, and folks
>> with any more details on Toronto's plans, please share to the list.
>> David Wood
>> Madison, WI
>> 608-255-4800, ext. 100

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