Environmental Group to Councillors: It’s your job to safeguard waste diversion programs

APRIL 26, 2011

TORONTO: City Councillors need to ensure that Toronto’s waste diversion programs are not compromised  by privatizing waste collection, said a local environmental group speaking to a City Council Committee today about the proposal to contract out waste collection west of Yonge Street.

“There just isn’t enough information in the report for Councillors to make an informed decision about whether privatizing waste collection is good or bad for waste diversion,” said Emily Alfred, Toronto Environmenal Alliance’s (TEA) Waste Campaigner. “We’ve been doing a lot of research, and the bottom line is that we just don’t know what impact privatization may have on waste diversion. What we do know is that without good contract language and proper monitoring and enforcement, privatization can harm waste diversion.”

Alfred referred to a York Region report that noted 4,000 tonnes of recyclables collected by a private waste collector in 2009 had to be dumped. The private waste collector over-compacted the recyclables to get the maximum weight in the truck. But doing so made it impossible to separate and process the recyclables, and reduced York’s diversion rate by 1%.

“We don’t know how many stories like this are out there. We do know that a private contractor’s first job is to make a profit, not to help the city meet its waste diversion targets,” said Alfred. “That’s why we rely on City Councillors to fight for Torontonians who want excellent waste diversion services at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the staff recommendations won’t allow this to happen.”

Alfred was referring to recommendations that would prevent City Council from reviewing the contract before it was signed.

TEA is asking the Committee to reject the staff recommendations and instead study the impact privatization has had on waste diversion in other cities. Then, if the results are positive, TEA requests that the contract include strict monitoring, enforcement, complete transparency and no language that would compromise future waste diversion plans. TEA also insisted any contract should go to City Council for approval.

“Toronto’s diversion and waste collection programs can’t be put at risk,” Alfred stated. “We need to take precautions to safeguard this essential public service, and to ensure that our waste diversion programs aren’t compromised. Let’s not break something that is working for the promise of savings that may never come.”


For more information:

Emily J. Alfred, Waste Campaigner, TEA - 416-596-0660

or Franz Hartmann, Executive Director, TEA - 416-596-0660