Toronto’s new Long Term Waste Strategy sets a path for how the City will deal with waste for the next 30-50 years - and it might just get Toronto on the path to zero waste.
For the last three years, TEA has pushed to ensure that the City’s Waste Strategy focuses on the 3Rs first, and has a goal of zero waste - we’ve researched, published two great reports, mobilized our members and community groups, and been members of the City's Stakeholder Advisory Group .
The good news is that it worked! Public pressure and feedback shifted the focus from a Waste Strategy focused on just disposal in a landfill to a comprehensive strategy with many exciting new programs. Read about the victory at City Council.
Why this plan is important
The plan is a roadmap for how we will divert our waste through reducing, reusing, recycling and composting, and where we will dispose of the remaining garbage.
Toronto currently sends about 50% of our residential waste to the city-owned landfill near London, if we don't increase our diversion rate, it's expected the landfill will be full by 2029. The new Waste Strategy aims to extend the life of the landfill to 2040.
As TEA's and the City's statistics have shown, there is a lot more that Toronto can do to reduce waste in the first place - most of what Toronto households put in the garbage doesn't belong there - at least 2/3rds of what is put out in the average garbage bag could have been recycled or composted instead!
In 2013, City staff proposed developing a Long Term Waste Strategy focused just on disposal in landfill or incinerator. TEA convinced Councillors to shift the focus of the Strategy to put more emphasis on diverting waste (reducing, reusing, recycling or composting) in the first place, and not just on disposing of what ends up in the garbage.
Though the Waste Strategy says some great things, there’s more to do. Despite some good language and some good plans, the target diversion rate is still far too low, far too late. We think Toronto can and should go faster and that we need to be strategic about where the City’s resources are put to get the quickest and best results.
TEA will continue to advocate for zero waste at the City, and we’ll pay close attention to how the Waste Strategy rolls out.