Privatization of trash pickup could jeopardize diversion, green group says-Toronto Star

Toronto’s commitment to recycling could be jeopardized by a “secret” privatization process, says the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

David Rider
City Hall Bureau Chief 
April 29, 2011

Toronto’s commitment to divert more trash from landfill is jeopardized by the “secret” process proposed to privatize more of Toronto’s curbside collection, a prominent environmental group says.

Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said in a statement Tuesday that councillors “are being asked to override their own rules that require council approval for big contracts and instead let a small group of unelected staff write and sign a huge contract to privatize garbage collection.

“The job of a private waste company is to make a profit, not ensure the city’s diversion goals are met. We need strong language in any contract to make sure waste diversion isn’t compromised in the drive for profit.”

A blueprint for contracting out garbage and recycling collection for 65,000 homes between Yonge St. and the Etobicoke border, drafted by senior city managers, was released Monday.

Their recommendation to issue “requests for quotations” for the waste services goes to the public works committee next Tuesday and to city council next month.

But the managers are also recommending that, to hurry the process and maximize potential savings, council vote to override the rule that says it should made the final decision on such large contracts.

Instead, an obscure committee of civil servants would authorize contracts worth an estimated $200 million or more over seven years, as long as the winning bids fit certain criteria.

The report says contractors would be expected to “fulfill any and all existing or future diversion programs,” to achieve the city’s official goal of diverting 70 per cent of waste away from landfill.

But Hartmann says that without a full airing at council, Torontonians could have no confidence the final contracts would continue efforts to green the city.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, said Tuesday he wants to let the “bid committee” authorize the contracts — but he’s not prepared to fight if other councillors oppose him.

“My preference is to award the contract as soon as possible and save $3.3 million,” by getting the cost benefits of privatization sooner than if the contracts are all referred to council for debate, he said.

“But it’s not a mountain of garbage that I’m prepared to die on.”

As Originally Published: Privatization of trash pickup could jeopardize diversion, green group says