This week, Councillors are voting on the framework and options consultants will use to draft a long term waste strategy for Toronto. The strategy will come to the public in early 2016.
TEA was at Public Works & Infrastructure Committee last week to hear the staff report and talk to Councillors.
The environment is the top priority
Staff reported on a series of surveys and information sessions that took place over the summer that asked Torontonians to identify their guiding principles, evaluation priorities and also comment on some of the key options for dealing with waste.
When asked to rank priorities, or to comment on evaluation criteria, the public clearly chose environmental concerns as the top priority for assessing waste options. The top guiding principles that people chose were about Climate Change, recognizing 'Waste as a Resource' and protecting the health of our communities and the environment.
The report also recommends a set of Evaluation Criteria that will be used to assess nearly 70 ‘options’ to reduce and manage waste (you can read the list as Appendix 1 of the staff report). It is difficult to understand just how the criteria will be applied and measured, so TEA will be watching closely in the coming months to ensure that environmental priorities are reflected in the evaluation results.
Committee members inspired by public deputations
TEA's Waste Campaigner, Emily Alfred, spoke to the Committee to highlight examples that prove we can dramatically reduce our waste using Toronto's existing waste system. Emily showed TEA's newest infographic based on the latest waste audit data from the City showing that our key problem is that most of what we're putting in the garbage could have been recycled or composted instead.
More importantly, Committee members heard from other community members and groups who shared the message that we can and should focus on reducing, reusing and recycling our waste.
TEA reached out to the managers of 430 Mayfair on the Green to encourage them to speak to the Committee about their amazing waste reduction success. The Superintendent Princely Soundrayangam and the Condo Board President Dave Mugford addressed the Committee to let them know that reducing waste is not difficult and it isn't expensive - it just takes persistence and education. Click on the photo to watch their deputation.
Paul and Louise from the Repair Cafe also shared the story of their group's grassroots waste reduction. Each month, volunteer 'fixers' help Toronto residents repair household goods - keeping waste out of landfill and building skills.
The great news is that hearing from the public really had an impact on councillors - they were clearly inspired and excited by the stories. Hearing directly from residents who care noticeably changed the tone of the meeting and the conversation to a positive one focused on simple solutions to help communities reduce waste!
What you can do
Let your councillor know that you want Toronto to focus on what's best for the environment, our health, and the most cost-effective solution for waste management: reducing, reusing and recycling! Sign and share our petition!
If you want to get more involved, sign up to volunteer, or stay tuned for special info sessions on how Toronto can go Waste Free!