February 16, 2004

Toronto surpasses 2003 goal for waste reduction, diversion

Toronto has surpassed its 2003 waste diversion goal, city officials reported recently. Final waste reduction and diversion results for last year weighed in at 32%, passing the first milestone-a commitment made in 2000 that by the end of 2003, it would reduce and divert the waste it sends to Michigan landfill by 30%. The success is being attributed to a recycling, composting and new technology plan that is both comprehensive and progressive. "We set an aggressive goal for 2003, and we exceeded it," said councillor Jane Pitfield, head of the city's works committee. "The numbers not only tell us that our programs work, but that people support them. The numbers also give us a running start on our next milestone, which is even more aggressive-we've committed to 60% diversion from landfill by 2006 and our vision is to achieve 100% by 2010."

The city's Task Force 2010 report, enacted two years ago, sets out measures through which government, citizens and product manufacturers share responsibility for meeting the 2010 diversion target and end Toronto's reliance on a Michigan landfill. 3R programs to reduce, re-use and recycle include:

-- adding a wider range of materials to the program, and capturing more recyclables overall through mandatory use of the Blue Box curbside recycling program;

-- rolling out the Green Bin program (food, garden and wet paper waste, diapers) to all single-family households in the Greater Toronto Area by 2005, as well as to multi-family households and apartment dwellers;

-- putting incentives and disincentives in place to make waste diversion the most attractive alternative, e.g. reducing garbage collection service to once every two weeks to encourage recycling and composting; and

-- using new and emerging technologies to handle the residual waste stream (approximately 40%) after re-use, recycling and composting have been maximized.

"We're thrilled to have reached and exceeded our 2003 target," stated Angelos Bacopoulos, general manager of Toronto's solid waste management services division. He attributed the city's achievement largely to the success of the Green Bin Program which, he said, "seemed to resonate with citizens right from the outset. Over 90% of Etobicoke and Scarborough residents are participating in the program, and I look forward to watching our diversion numbers continue to rise as the program ramps up to become city-wide by 2005," he added.

More information is available from Geoff Rathbone, director of policy and planning in Toronto's works and emergency services department, 416/392-4715.

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