Zero Waste + Organics

More than half of all waste produced by Toronto residents is food, plant, and yard waste. While Toronto offers the Green Bin and Yard waste composting, 182,000 tonnes of organics are put in the garbage and sent to landfill every year.

Zero waste values organic materials as a resource. 

By recycling organics, Toronto produces compost that enriches soils, replaces chemical fertilizers, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Most of Toronto’s Green Bin waste ends up at two City-owned anaerobic digesters, which turn organic material into compost and will soon capture the methane to use as a renewable energy. Leaf and yard waste is collected by the City and turned into a nutrient-rich compost that residents can pick up for free at Community Environment Days.

HALIFAX - This city banned organics from their landfill as a way to increase diversion.

TORONTO - Our city was the first major North American city to roll out a major residential Green Bin Program in 2002.

Zero waste requires equal access to Green Bin organics collection for all buildings where we live, work, study and play. 

The Green Bin is widely used by residents living in houses, but most residents living in apartments and condominiums are not yet using this service. Most offices, restaurants and businesses do not separate organic waste at all unless they are a small business with City collection.

SAN FRANCISCO - All of their buildings, including businesses, offices and stores must collect organic waste for composting. Some businesses divert more than 80% of their total waste.

FOODSHARE - Their community composter turns more than 22 tonnes of institutional food waste into rich compost each year.

Zero waste strategies reduce food waste at the source, donate unwanted food to social programs, and compost at the community scale.

While no one wants to waste food, the average Canadian household spends $28 per week on food that isn’t eaten. Food waste is a big problem at the commercial scale, especially for warehouses, grocery stores and restaurants. Community groups in Toronto are responding to the challenge with innovative solutions that improve social equity.

SECOND HARVEST - Their Food Rescue & Delivery program collects over 3,700 tonnes of unwanted food from distributors, stores and warehouses and delivers it to food banks and shelters across Toronto.

ZOOSHARE - North America’s first zoo-based biogas plant is funded by community bonds. Its anaerobic digester will recycle manure from the Toronto Zoo and food waste from local grocery stores into high-quality fertilizer and electricity, diverting 14,000 tonnes from landfill each year.


This page is from TEA's report Zero Waste Toronto. You can also read our latest report Organics First: Putting Toronto on the Path to Zero Waste.