Toronto votes to delay — but not dismiss — possibility of burning trash

The National Observer

By Abdul Matin Sarfraz

Toronto has too much garbage and not enough places to put it.

As the fourth-largest city in North America, Toronto is home to more than three million people. The city disposes of approximately 450,000 tonnes of garbage per year at Green Lane landfill in Southwold, Ont., roughly 200 kilometres west of the city. And based on that amount of waste, Green Lane is expected to reach capacity by 2034-35.

In the search for a solution, the city has been considering incineration as a potential fix, much to the dismay of environmental groups concerned about the possible air pollution and health hazards associated with burning waste.

The groups have urged city council to look for alternate solutions. At a council meeting on June 14, they won a partial victory when councillors voted to postpone sending trash to incinerator facilities that generate energy from waste until more study on the environmental standards of existing facilities is done.

For now, the city will look for alternative landfill options and conduct public education campaigns to reduce the overall amount of trash.

Waste reduction efforts will include keeping organic waste out of the garbage stream, particularly in multi-residential buildings where recycling is not yet mandatory. The city will also design strategies to discourage single-use and takeaway packing in favour of reusable containers for food and look for ways to keep construction and demolition waste out of the landfill.

Emily J. Alfred, waste campaigner for Toronto Environmental Alliance, attended and spoke at the committee meeting that heard the item before it went to the city council meeting. She said the groups argued the city should focus on diverting and reducing waste and felt their message was heard.

This article was reposted from the National Observer

It was originally published June 19, 2023