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City will no longer collect extra recyclables in plastic bags - Inside Toronto

November 11, 2011
David Nickle
Inside Toronto

Homeowners with extra recycling will no longer be able to put it out in a plastic bag for collection - and if they want to get an extra blue bin to contain that overflow, they won't be able to pick it up at their local Environment Day anymore.

Those are two of the impacts of the city's 2012 solid waste budget, which the city's budget committee debated Thursday, Nov. 10, and will be going to executive committee later in the month.

The solid waste budget is paid for outside the property taxes, on a rate based system that is calculated by the size of garbage bin that a homeowner has. Council approves the solid waste budget along with the budget for water prior to the city's general operating budget, which is paid for through property taxes.

This year, the solid waste budget will see residential rates frozen - in part, according to budget chief Mike Del Grande, because of contracting out of more garbage collection that was approved at the last meeting of Toronto Council.

"It would be difficult, to say on solid waste, to increase fees when we just went through a big humongous process to save a lot of money," said Del Grande. "We can't do that when you have $11 million in savings."

The budget freezes residential collection rates at 2011 levels, but it goes further, with a range of adjustments to services and fees in other areas that led to some trash talk during the meeting.

Among the changes is that Charitable organizations and churches that were able to bring garbage to city transfer stations for free will now have to pay; homeowners will no longer receive four free garbage tags to cover additional collection; and the city will stop collecting blue bin material in excess of that which can fit in the city-supplied bins.

That last recommendation drew criticism from environmentalists and some councillors.

The measure is expected to save $500,000, but it will mean that residents who have extra recycling materials will have to store them for another two weeks.

According to city staff, about 10 per cent of homeowners put out extra recycling in plastic bags. Staff pointed out homeowners who do that regularly can upgrade the size of their blue bin at no charge, or if they already use the largest bin can receive a second bin for free.

Emily Alfred, who watches the city's solid waste program for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said those new bins will end up costing the city more - and if residents don't take the time to order new ones, will result in more recyclable materials going to landfill sites.

"And they're adding new materials to bins," she said. "It's great that new materials are going into the bin, but those take up more space. I'm not sure where the savings are coming in."

The committee also recommended the approval of a nine per cent increase in Toronto's water rate. That increase has become an annual affair, as the city continues to raise cash to repair and upgrade aging sewer infrastructure.

There will be changes in that department too, however, with the city's basement flooding program seeing a reduction and a move to extend a preferential water rate to all industrial users. Currently, the rate is only available to those industrial users who pollute less.

One thing the committee didn't do was approve an amendment by budget chief Mike Del Grande, that would have seen the city stop using fluoride in its water supply.

The city has been under pressure from some citizen groups to stop the practice of fluoridating water, and Del Grande said he had some sympathy with them on the matter.

"Personally my viewpoint is that fluoride should come to an end," he said. "It's a different society - we've got good dentists. I say we don't add something if we don't need to add it. I don't think fluoride improves people's health."

But the committee disagreed and voted down Del Grande's motion.

As originally published here: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/cityhall/article/1243013--city-will-no-longer-collect-extra-recyclables-in-plastic-bags

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