Recycle less, save more, suggests consultant - Toronto Star

David Rider and Paul Moloney
Toronto Star
July 11, 2011

Trashing former mayor David Miller’s vow to divert 70 per cent of Toronto’s waste away from landfill is one way to cut the budget, a consultant says.

Trashing former mayor David Miller’s promise to divert 70 per cent of Toronto’s waste away from landfill is one way to save money, city-hired consultant KPMG says.

But the recommendation — which would halt city efforts to give more highrise residents the option of recycling — got reviews ranging from scathing to skeptical on Monday.

The consultant notes that Toronto’s “very aggressive” recycling target is far above those of many other cities.

Currently, Toronto diverts 47 per cent of its household waste away from landfill and to recycling.

The big obstacle in getting to 70 per cent — Miller’s promise in his successful 2006 re-election bid — is the scarcity of recycling programs, particularly green bin organics, in highrises and other multi-unit buildings.

Some 63 per cent of waste currently collected from single-family homes is recycled or composted. For apartments and condominiums, that figure is only 18 per cent.

And Toronto’s cost of diverting waste to recycling is $343 per tonne, compared with $111 for putting it on a truck and dumping it at Toronto’s Green Lane landfill southwest of London, Ont.

“Expenditures will have to increase significantly if the (70 per cent) target is to be achieved, or even approached,” KPMG said.

Franz Hartmann, executive director of Toronto Environmental Alliance, called the suggestion “ludicrous.”

“The report essentially says if the city wants to save money, kiss goodbye to the green bin for those who live in apartments . . .

“They don’t take into account the cost of dumping this garbage and how that will affect Green Lane. The more you dump in there, the sooner it closes. And the more expensive it will be to set up a new landfill site. So you save money now, but you pay a lot more in the future.”

Deputy mayor Doug Holyday, an ally of Mayor Rob Ford, said it’s worth looking at the proposal, but maybe not much more.

“I would be reluctant to drop the (diversion) rate, but I would like to see the costs associated with doing that,” he said.

“No cuts being recommended are hard and fast. A lot depends on public outcry and dollars saved.”

A report released Monday on Toronto’s public consultation on city services found that, “Many people felt that recycling and waste diversion is important for environmental reasons.”

As Originally Published: Recycle less, save more, suggests consultant