Look Before You Leap: An Environmental Perspective on Privatizing Waste Collection in Toronto
A report of the Toronto Environmental Alliance
For almost 20 years, TEA has been fighting for waste diversion and reduction across Toronto. Today, Toronto has some of the most advanced waste diversion programs in the country. Currently, City Hall is debating whether to privatize waste collection services west of Yonge Street.
TEA has spent the last few months researching the issue of waste diversion services and diversion rates, and how Toronto’s waste diversion goals might be impacted by contracting out waste collection for a significant portion of the City.
Our research has led to the following key findings:
- • No applicable studies have examined whether privatization has a negative or positive impact on waste diversion rates;
- • Significant evidence exists that waste diversion has been jeopardized by private waste collectors; it is unclear if this is a consequence of privatization, bad contract language, and/or insufficient monitoring;
- • Studies have shown that proper monitoring costs about 20% of the contract value to ensure cities get what they paid for;
- • City staff have seriously over-estimated the potential savings from privatizing waste collection west of Yonge Street because they have under-estimated monitoring costs.
On May 17th 2011, City Council will be considering a staff report from the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. It recommends that Council immediately proceed with privatizing waste collection services and give staff authority on the final contract language and award. This would exclude Council from having direct oversight over contract language or the opportunity to review the final contract ($250 million and lasting 7+ years) before it is signed. The staff report provides no information about whether waste diversion is affected by privatization. It also under-estimates the monitoring costs for the contract, meaning the potential savings have been over-estimated by at least $4 million per year.
Based on our findings, TEA recommends City Council reject the staff recommendations and instead direct staff to:
- • Get the facts about what impact privatizing collection could have on waste diversion rates by looking to other cities.
- • Develop contract language that ensures the City is not penalized for making improvements to our diversion services or programs. This includes avoiding any ‘put-or-pay’ provisions for waste disposal that penalize us for reducing waste.
- • Find the true cost to the City of properly monitoring private collection contracts.
- • Propose a process that ensures City Council has direct oversight over contract language development and signs off on any contract before it is signed.
- • Report back the above findings to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
Download the full report here: Look Before You Leap: An Environmental Perspective on Privatizing Waste Collection in Toronto
|TEA Report - Look Before You Leap.pdf||1.78 MB|
TEA is committed to fighting for diversion and waste reduction across Toronto. We will work to protect the great diversion programs we've fought for over the last ten years. TEA is concerned that privatizing waste services reduces local control and puts our valuable waste diversion programs at risk.
Update: On October 24th, City Council voted to accept the bid from GFL (Green For Life) to collect waste in half of the City. The good news is that a number of motions demanding strict reporting were passed, ensuring that we'll have plenty of information to follow in the coming years to ensure that service quality or environmental standards don't decrease! Click here to read more.
In the first quarter of 2012, staff will be outlining the structure used to oversee the contract, its associated costs, and performance targets. Any failure to meet these targets will be immediately reported to Public Works Committee.
TEA will continue to follow the progress of this issue and keep you informed.
- This report outlines our key concerns about risks to diversion programs and the
need for transparency.
The report includes a number of examples from Toronto and other cities
where waste diversion services were compromised due to problems with
contract language, and monitoring and enforcement
See TEA's media coverage on our TEA In The News page.
24 October 2011 - Council votes to accept bid from GFL for waste collection west of Yonge Street. A number of motions for strict reporting are passed.
19 October 2011 - Staff recommend that Council award the waste contract to GFL.
Media Release: Waste Contract Puts Environment at Risk - 21 October 2011
17 May 2011 - Council votes to seek private bids for waste collection in
half the City. Council overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to allow
staff to make the final decision, and voted in favour of the
26 April 2011 - Public Works and Infrastructure Committee approve staff proposal to seek private bids for curbside collection west of Yonge Street.
Toronto's transit is under threat, and we need you to take action! Tell the Mayor and Councillors that you support the Transit City light rail network and that you don't support cuts to service.
- 1. Send an Email to City Councillors and Mayor Ford.
- 2. Ask 5 friends to send an email today.
- 3. Share this message with your networks.
We need fast, reliable transit across the city now
Toronto needs more transit, not cuts to bus service. Cuts to late night service hurts late shift workers, students, late night businesses, and the ability of all Torontonians to choose public transit over cars. We also need more frequent, comfortable, and faster service throughout the City as is provided by the Transit City light rail plan.
Transit was being built. But Mayor Ford ordered the TTC to stop the work underway to bring Light Rail Transit to Sheppard, Eglinton and Finch. Mayor Ford has stopped transit expansion and in the process has wasted close to $130 million already spent on Transit City. Taxpayers may now be on the hook for signed contracts worth more than $1 billion, including the purchasing of vehicles and tunnel boring machines for rapid transit under Eglinton Ave.
Tell the Mayor and Councillors that you support the Transit City light rail network and that you don't support cuts to service.
Your action matters!
In recent weeks, thousands of Torontonians have called, written and emailed their Councillors about transit, and it's having an impact!
Fare increase cancelled! Delay on decision to cut bus service!
- On Monday January 10th, the proposed 2011 budget was released, announcing a TTC fare increase and cuts to service along 48 different bus routes. Immediately, TEA mobilized our members, and we were successful!
- TEA and others, including TTCriders, acted fast (view our press release here). Within a day, Ford and TTC Chair Karen Stintz stopped the fare increase.
- We also called our members and ally organizations to get people to speak out against the cuts at the TTC meeting on Wednesday January 12th. The TTC wanted to decide on bus service cuts at that meeting, but because of the groundswell of public outcry they delayed their decision to the TTC meeting on February 2nd.
- The TTC is now planning public consultation meetings to find out what the public thinks of the cuts to bus service.
Success! Eglinton Light Rail line may be saved!
- Over just a few weeks in December and January, close to 10,000 Torontonians took action to save the Transit City plan. Thousands of emails were sent and phone calls made to the Mayor’s office and Councillors in support of the Transit City light rail plan.
- Because of the groundswell of public support for Transit City, Ford’s team is considering going ahead with the Eglinton crosstown – one of the 8 Transit City lines.
- In the first week of January, the media (Toronto Star, CBC news, Toronto Life, Toronto Sun) reported a “Ford-Transit City hybrid plan is in the works” (Toronto Star, Tuesday January 4).
- This is great news - and we need to keep the pressure on the Mayor and our Council to build transit that serves the whole city.
Take action: send an email in favour of the light rail network to your councillor and the Mayor here: http://emailthem.ca/transitcity/
Toronto City Council will soon be considering two, very different transit expansion plans; one that will build a network of light rail transit lines to all four corners of the city, and the other that relies on subway expansion.
To help Torontonians, TEA created a map which neighbourhoods would benefit from the 8 light rail transit lines vs. subway expansion along Sheppard Ave. and the Scarborough RT.
The map shows that the proposed light rail transit plan will serve 630,000 people in Toronto, over half a million more people than the proposed subway expansion plan, which will serve 61,000 people. Should the subway expansion plan proceed, one in five Torontonians will lose access to fast, reliable transit.
Light rail transit is also better for the environment (see TEA's report below), and is better for taxpayers: light rail costs less per kilometre at $111 million versus $344 million per kilometrefor the subway plan.
The information on the map comes from a just released, report called “Making tracks to Torontonians: Building transit where we need it” written by the Pembina Institute. The report provides a detailed comparison of the light rail transit expansion plan adopted by the City of Toronto and the Province and the proposed subway expansion plan.
Check out TEA's recent report Clearing the Air on the TTC: Recommendations to Increase the Environmental Benefits of the TTC to read our analysis of the environmental benefits of light rail transit over subways, and recommendations for the new Council.
|TEA Media Release January 5 2011.pdf||21.19 KB|
|Pembina Report - Making Tracks to Torontonians.pdf||1.52 MB|
|TEA Transit Comparison Map Colour.pdf||54.75 KB|
|Pembina BACKGROUNDER - Making Tracks to Torontonians.pdf||319.02 KB|
On November 15th, TEA and TTCriders released a report on the environmental benefits of the TTC, with key recommendations for the TTC and the new Council.
CLEARING THE AIR ON THE TTC:
Recommendations to Increase the Environmental Benefits of the TTC
Report prepared by Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and TTCriders
Click here, or on the image below to open the report in a new window.
The TTC is vital to Toronto. Without it, Torontonians would be living in perpetual gridlock and spending even more of their waking hours commuting. Moreover, Toronto’s air would be significantly dirtier and we would be emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of additional greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions into the atmosphere.
During the 2010 municipal election, there was much discussion about the future of the TTC. Lots of suggestions were made about how to improve existing services and about how best to expand the TTC, especially into Toronto’s inner suburbs. Almost all of the discussion centred on finances, the merits or drawbacks of various forms of transit vehicles and what type of new transit modes should be built. There was almost no consideration of how proposed changes and expansion plans would impact the environment, specifically air quality and ghg emissions.
Election campaigns are a great opportunity for candidates, pundits and the public to debate ideas and options. Now, the new Councillors and Mayor must move from debate to action. Decisions about the TTC’s existing operations and expansion plans must be made and we cannot afford bad decisions. In particular, we cannot afford decisions that harm our air quality or our ability to reduce ghg emissions.
This report offers information and recommendations to assist our elected officials in making decisions to improve our air quality and to reduce our ghg emissions. In particular, this report provides:
- An estimate of the ghg emissions avoided due to transporation by TTC instead of private vehicles.
- An estimate of the ghg emissions avoided should the 2007 Transit City Plan be fully implemented.
- An analysis of the ghg emissions produced by subways and Light Rail Transit (LRT) using Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs).
Based on this information, we urge the new City Council and the Toronto Transit Commission to maximize the environmental benefits of the TTC by adopting the following recommendations:
- Develop a baseline analysis of ghg and smog emissions resulting from current practices as well as a baseline analysis of avoided emissions resulting from current practices.
- Develop a methodology to assess the ghg and smog emissions of various operational changes and that the results of this methodology be considered when making decisions about which operational changes to adopt.
- Continue implementing the 2007 Transit City Plan and only change course if careful analysis of other expansion plans can clearly demonstrate that they offer greater reduction of ghg emissions per dollar spent and better service to TTC users.
We hope these recommendations will be adopted by our elected officials to help determine the best options for service improvements and for system expansion. Doing so will result in improving and expanding the TTC in such a way that most effectively cleans Toronto’s air and contributes to reductions in ghg emissions.
Toronto Environmental Alliance
|Clearing the Air on the TTC - Nov 2010.pdf||257.93 KB|
This upcoming election is not just about the environment, it's also about the future of Canada’s largest urban centre. That's why TEA has joined OneToronto, a network of environmental, arts, student, labour and social justice groups representing hundreds of thousands of Torontonians.
The OneToronto campaign aims to change the nature of the public debate around the 2010 election. We urge you to get involved, ask questions and talk to your neighbours. Get engaged in a local campaign. Vote. Toronto's future is your choice.
To learn more about OneToronto, visit www.onetoronto.ca.
Read the OneToronto media release "Mayoral Hopefuls: Stop Trash-Talking Toronto"
On Saturday, September 11, 2010 Indian Ocean, India’s greatest rock band, will be performing in Toronto to support farmers in India and here. Proceeds from the concert will go to AidIndia, a charity which helps Indian farmers develop sustainable agriculture and overcome the economic hardships that have led to over 200,000 farmers committing suicide in the past decade.
The concert will also allow Indian Ocean to talk to audience members about the importance of supporting local farmers by buying fresh local produce. TEA will be there with resources about where Torontonians can buy fresh local food, especially produce used in South Asian cuisine. Click here for TEA's local food guides.
For more details, please visit the concert organizers at www.yehhailife.com/
|Indian Ocean Media Release.pdf||55.59 KB|
July 29, 2010
The Honourable John Gerretsen
Minister of the Environment
77 Wellesley Street West
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
Toronto, ON M7A 2T5
Dear Minister Gerretsen:
We urge the Provincial Government to continue moving towards implementing a full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system in Ontario as part of proposed amendments to the Waste Diversion Act (WDA). Over the past few years, we have been very encouraged by the Provincial Government’s proposed policy direction to make EPR a cornerstone of the WDA.
As you know, the ongoing controversy about eco-fees has obscured the fact that holding manufacturers responsible for recovering, reusing and recycling materials is beneficial to Ontario’s environment and economy. In his report, Paying for the Management of Household Hazardous Wastes, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) rightly noted that the concept of holding manufacturers of products that end up as waste responsible for those wastes is fair and results in more environmentally and economically cost effective waste diversion. As well, true Extended Producer Responsibility means municipal taxpayers will save hundreds of millions of dollars as waste management costs are transferred to manufacturers.
To date, Ontario has taken a leadership role in promoting EPR. For this to continue the Government will have to address some of the flaws identified by the ECO with its existing programs. We believe the best way to do this is by reforming Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act (WDA). Specifically, we believe the 90 day review needs to consider how to change the WDA so that:
1. Producer responsibility programs must meet mandatory environmental standards and recovery targets set by the Ontario Government. These standards and targets must deliver strong protection for the public and for the environment. Setting recovery targets that are simple and clear will result in increased waste diversion and growth in Ontario’s green economy. Setting environmental targets will drive producers to make returning products for reuse and recycling convenient for consumers. ;
2. Significant fines must be set so that producers have an incentive to meet the targets. These fines must be large enough so that the costs to producers for not meeting the targets are significantly greater than the costs of meeting the targets.
3. Producer responsibility must focus on individual manufacturers and not agencies. Individual producers should be responsible for the environmental and financial responsibility for the waste associated with their products. Companies should be given the same freedom to choose how to recycle as they have in making their products and the most cost effective way to reduce, reuse and recycle. Competition between producers will result in greener products and products that are less costly to reuse and recycle.
We believe that amending the Waste Diversion Act based on these basic principles will build an Extended Producer Responsibility system that is good for the environment, the economy and taxpayers.
Our groups look forward to continue working with the Province in developing the best waste diversion policies for Ontario. In the interim if you or your staff has any questions or concerns please do not hesitate contacting us.
Gideon Foreman, Executive Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Sarah Miller, Co-ordinator and Water Policy Researcher
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Carolyn Webb, Programmes Manager
Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy
Pierre Sadik, Manager of Government Affairs
David Suzuki Foundation
Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, O.ONT.
Executive Director, RNAO
Dan McDermott, Director
Sierra Club Ontario
Franz Hartmann, PhD, Executive Director
Toronto Environmental Alliance
cc. The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier; Mr. Hudak, MPP; Ms. Horwath, MPP; Mr. Tabuns, MPP; Mr. Barrett, MPP
|ENGO Letter to Minister Gerretsen re WDO.pdf||144.83 KB|
Our mid-campaign report card examines what the top Mayoral candidates have said about Toronto's six Municipal Election Environmental Priorities. These priorities are endorsed by a growing list of community and environmental organizations across Toronto.
Candidate evaluations are based on remarks and statements made publicly at debates, in the media and on the candidates' websites, as well as on-the-record to us, the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
We hope this mid-campaign report card will help guide candidates as they develop their environmental platforms. We also hope Torontonians will use this report card to discuss environmental issues with candidates.
Comments on Candidates
Rob Ford – Shows Little Interest
Rob has shown no interest in the environmental priorities. On the rare occasion when he does talk about the environment, it’s clear that he needs to spend more time studying the issues. For example, he confuses streetcars with LRTs and wants subways even where there isn’t enough density to support them. To earn a passing grade, Rob must put some time into understanding that there is more to being Mayor than complaining about Councillors’ expenses or talking about football. Read more...
Joe Pantalone – Progressing Steadily; Needs to Speak Up
Joe is doing well. His knowledge of the environmental priorities is impressive: he understands the importance of public transit and building Transit City, sustainable energy, complete streets and Toronto Hydro’s role in greening the city. However, he can improve his grade by supporting these priorities in an official platform. He is distracted by what others say and needs to focus to get his points across. For Joe to excel he must learn to speak more about the priorities. Read more...
Rocco Rossi – Shows Lack of Understanding
Rocco is unsure about the priorities. While he talks about them, his plans suggests he doesn’t understand them. His focus on subways shows he doesn’t get the environmental importance of the Transit City Plan that will bring transit to all parts of Toronto. He also doesn’t seem to realize that selling Toronto Hydro could jeopardize the City’s Sustainable Energy Strategy. Rocco needs to spend the summer studying the priorities if he hopes to do well. Read more...
George Smitherman – Shows Potential But Needs to Apply Himself
George likes to talk about the environment, but his enthusiasm doesn’t match his work to date. Compared to Transit City and the Toronto Bike Plan, his integrated transportation plan is not as good for the environment: it will take longer to build, reach fewer people and keep bike lanes off main roads. He has also mentioned the possibility of burning garbage, which harms people and the environment. For George to succeed, he needs to match his enthusiasm with solid planning to achieve a better grade. Read more...
Sarah Thomson – Eager Participant; Misses Key Lessons
Sarah is very eager and wants to do well. She acknowledges the need for blue and green bins in apartment buildings, but has no plan to get them there. She supports public transit, but her plan ignores the lessons from the past: subways don’t work in low density neighbourhoods. She also cares about cyclists but doesn’t want to build the routes they need. Sarah, like others, needs to spend the summer reviewing the priorities if she hopes to do well. Read more...
UPDATE May 2011
On May 18, City Council voted to stop burning Scarborough's sewage sludge at the Highland Creek Treatment Plant! Councillor Ainslie (Ward 43) led the charge to oppose the construction of a new incinerator on the site and instead invest in more sustainable, environmentally friendly management options.
TEA would like to thank all of the Councillors who voted in favour of cleaner air and more sustainable options to manage our waste. See the City of Toronto website to see how your Councillor voted on incineration.
This vote could not have been won without the tireless efforts of local community members in Ward 44 and Ward 43 (including a TEA member) who went out and gathered over 1,200 petition signatures in a single week. Great job!
Voting to shut down the last City-owned sewage incinerator is a welcome sign that we care about protecting our environment and our health!
UPDATE April, 2011
On April 26, the Public Works Committee again discussed the Highland Creek Incinerator. Unfortunately, the Committee voted 4 to 2 to continue incinerating sewage sludge in Scarborough. The issue now goes to Council for a final vote later in May.
TEA, along with community residents were at the meeting to raise concerns about the health and environmental impact of incineration, and to ask the Committee to ensure that the highest environmental standards were put in place on any new or upgraded incinerators.
Read Heather Marshall's (TEA's Toxic Campaigner) deputation here.
UPDATE March, 2011
Councillor Moeser is attempting to re-open the debate over incineration at Scarborough’s sewage treatment plant after City Council voted to shut the incinerator down in 2010!
On June 8th 2010 at City Council, TEA helped pass a motion to stop incineration of Toronto’s sewage sludge at the Highland Creek Treatment Plant in Scarborough.
See TEA's briefing note for Councillors explaining the environmental implications of biosolid incineration.
It was a very close vote with a little over half of Toronto’s Councillors voting to put the last City-owned incinerator to rest for good! Congratulations to all the Councillors who stood up for a safer, sustainable option for managing our sewage waste.
See our Council Report Card to see how Councillors voted in June 2010.