Toronto's waste diversion rate is going in the wrong direction - not only did we fail to meet our projected increase, but our diversion rate fell to 2012 levels.
City staff projected that Toronto would increase the rate of recycling and composting to divert waste from landfill in 2015. Staff expected the diversion rate would go up from 53% to 55% in 2015, instead, it went down to 52%.
What's worse - the decrease in diversion rate happened in a year when it should be going up. A number of things happened in 2015 that should make recycling and composting easier:
- waste fees increased
- new plastics were added to the Blue Bin
- tens of thousands of households in apartments finally received Green Bins for the first time
- thousands of people talked about how the City can cut waste at public events and consultations about the long term waste strategy
The City projected a 2% increase in recycling and composting rates for single-family homes and a 6% increase for multi-residential homes, but that didn't happen.
What does this mean?
Toronto set a goal of recycling and composting 70% of our waste to divert it from landfill by 2010. The fact that we're stuck at just over 50% for four years is a sign that what we're doing isn't working.
Waste diversion rates aren't a perfect measure of getting to zero waste, but it is a helpful indicator if we're moving in the right direction.
This drop in diversion rate is a loud wake up call that Toronto needs to change course in how we deal with waste. As the City's Waste Strategy for the next 50 years is being written, this proves that we can't stick to doing more of the same.
Toronto needs to dramatically improve communications and education programs, provide more support and troubleshooting for buildings just starting up with new diversion programs, and much more enforcement to ensure people are following the rules.
While the City-wide residential diversion rate is at 52%, we know that we could be at 85%.
Council will be voting on a Waste Strategy this summer. We want them to vote for a strategy that conserves resources and helps our economy and our community. Find out how you can help us advocate for zero waste.