2013 Waste Budget fails 70% diversion plan

On November 29th, Toronto Council voted for the 2013 Waste Budget, and unfortunately, it once again falls far short on the necessary investment and action to achieve Toronto's target of 70% diversion of residential waste. 

Councillors voted 22 to 18 against a modest increase in waste fees of 2.1%
(the rate of inflation), equal to between $5 and $8 per household. Staff
have stated that a 0% fee increase delays Toronto's solid waste capital
plan and puts more pressure on future years for rate increases.

The good news is that Council requested a report from staff on how to get green bins into all multi residential buildings in 2013. Though, without a rate increase, the budget does not include funding for the additional staff required, or an investment in an additional organics processing capacity.

Next Steps: In February 2013, staff will present their plan to get green bins into all high rise buildings in Toronto, and discuss the city's progress towards Target 70.

More about the 2013 Solid Waste Budget:

The 2013 Waste budget included a 0% waste fee increase, and delays to some key capital projects. This puts Toronto's progress towards 70% diversion at risk.

The staff report projects Toronto will be stuck at about 50% diversion for another 4 years! The chart below shows Toronto at 53% diversion in 2015 (from page 22 of the 2013 Waste operating budget). 

Chart from p22 SWMS 2013 Operating Budget - shows 53% projected diversion in 2015

The budget notes talk about increasing education, promotion and outreach to the public to increase diversion, but there is no clear plan outlined and no increase in staffing or budgets to do so.

TEA concerns about the budget:

  • A 0% fee increase means further capital delays in the project. (See staff notes outlining the capital delays this 0% increase will
    cause - p19 of Waste Operating Budget and p23 of Waste Capital Budget) 
  • The number of Reuse Centres to process durable and bulky waste (furniture, mattresses etc) has been reduced from 3 to 2.
  • The Mixed Waste Processing Facility planned for the Green Lane landfill is being delayed another year.

TEA recommends:

  • Increase the solid waste fee by a modest 2-3% to ensure there is sufficient capital reserve to build diversion infrastructure quickly and stop delays (equal to about $1-6 per household for the year). Council originally planned to increase waste rates by 3.5% every year, but has only increased them once in 5 budgets.
  • Begin the process of building a new green bin composting facility to manage all of Toronto's organics - private organics processors are frequently shut down due to environmental violation, and cost the city more per tonne.
  • Invest in outreach and education to provide the needed support for property managers, staff and residents of apartment buildings and condos. Hire 22 staff to provide support - equal to 1 per 200 buildings; also hire 4 staff to expand the 3Rs Ambassador program to leverage thousands of volunteer hours.