The City of Toronto set a target of diverting (reducing, reusing, recycling or composting) 70% of our waste from disposal by 2010. That target was missed and today, in 2014, we're stuck at just over 50% waste diversion.
In spring and summer 2013, Solid Waste Management Services reported to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on why Toronto missed Target 70, and what should happen next.
Two key issues were discussed - Green Bins in apartment buildings, and the role of Public Education in increasing waste diversion. TEA spoke to the Committee at these meetings and urged Councillors to promote waste diversion first.
In addition, these meetings outlined the beginning of the City's Long Term Waste Management Strategy process - read more here.
Green Bins in Apartment Buildings
Solid Waste Management Reports: SWMS committed to getting green bins into apartment buildings by the end of 2014.
TEA Response: This is a great goal, as residents of apartment buildings (half of Toronto households) have been waiting for years to get green bins at home. The report in March 2013, and the follow up report in June 2013 didn't provide enough detail to determine how effective the City's approach is. Councillors asked for better details, including before-and-after waste diversion rates from apartment buildings that are starting green bin service.
Public Education and Support for Diversion
Solid Waste Management Services outlined a plan to provide education and information for apartments and condos that are starting Green Bin collection, and a recycling education program.
TEA’s Response: While too many household recyclables and organics end up in the waste stream, its clear that simple education is the most effective and least expensive tool to increase diversion. Education and support for all residents and waste customers must be a priority. This includes not only communications materials on the city website, but hands-on support and outreach to schools, apartment buildings, non-profits and others that are not diverting as much as they could.
Finally, TEA pointed out that while staff have been doing a great job creating strong education materials for the public on recycling and composting, more resources are needed. TEA called for more staffing, a bigger budget, and a review of the best techniques to increase diversion across Toronto.
Councillors agreed and asked staff to report back on the impact of the education and green bin roll-out techniques, to partner with other organizations and the TCHC to increase diversion, and to develop a ward-by-ward strategy that councillors can help with to get diversion levels up.
- Read the Staff Report & Committee Decision - Green Bin Implementation & Education Initiatives (June 2013)
- Read the Staff Repor & Committee Decision - Progress to Target 70 & a Long Term Waste Strategy (March 2013)