Torontonians making 'mistakes' with what ends up in their trash, expert says - CBC News

Too many recyclables ending up in garbage waste, city statistics show

CBC News, Nov 20th, 2015


Toronto residents with extra-large garbage bins are recycling less than those with smaller bins, prompting one city councillor to suggest possibly eliminating the biggest residential bins available.

Coun. Mike Layton tweeted a chart from a city audit on Nov. 6, showing how much of the garbage placed in bins was actually recyclable. and shouldn't have been in the trash.

The numbers showed 77 per cent of materials in extra-large city garbage bins shouldn't have been in the trash.

The figure for residents using medium-sized bins, meanwhile, is much lower — with more recyclables getting sorted into the right place.

"And what does that say?" asked Coun. Gary Crawford, who is also chair of the budget committee. 

It says Torontonians with the biggest bins aren't concerned with recycling — or that they simply lack the education on what the city is able to recycle. But in a city striving to cut costs to balance the books, unnecessary polluters have become a target for some councillors. 

"Maybe we just should get rid of the extra-large bins," said Coun. Janet Davis. "It's very clear there's no incentive to try and reduce the amount you put in."

That's why city staff recommended a three per cent rate hike for 2016 garbage collection rates on Nov 6. 

The city's website mentions a 70 per cent waste diversion target, a goal aimed at reducing how much Torontonians dump in landfills. The figure is a far cry from where residents are at now with recycling — only 38 per cent of what landed in the trash in 2012 to 2013 for an average single family home in Toronto was actually garbage. 

More bins in more rooms

CBC News spoke with an environmental expert to get to the bottom of the city's trash problem. Emily Alfred with the Toronto Environmental Alliance went through a garbage bin with CBC Toronto's Jamie Strashin to see how well his family was diverting waste. 

"Paper towels, napkins, tissues — these are some of the biggest mistakes people make," Alfred said, adding items such as yogurt cups and even Styrofoam can be recycled in Toronto.

Alfred said there are ways to make Torontonians think twice when sorting their waste, such as charging more to pick up garbage or enforcing existing bylaws. 

"You need a green bin and a recycling bin in every room in the house, including in the bathroom," Alfred said. 

With councillors trying to balance Toronto's books, the recommended rate hikes will be discussed at a special budget committee meeting on Tuesday. If approved by council, the higher rates will become effective on Jan. 1.


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