Environment

The Future of Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Plastics have played a large part in Torontonians' everyday lives since the 1950s. Since then, plastic production has increased more than any other manufactured material. Based on a study conducted by the Waste Reduction Week in Canada program, it's estimated that on average, less than 11% of plastics are properly recycled in Canada. As plastic waste accumulates in our environment, it threatens the health of our ecosystems.

I've long advocated for a strategy to shift responsibility for recycling to plastic producers. In 2015, I moved a motion that saw City Council support full producer responsibility and new, comprehensive provincial legislation for waste reduction and resource recovery.

In early June of this year, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks announced that the province would be considering moving to the Extended Producer Responsibility model of plastic and packaging product recycling. This change is intended to decrease plastic waste across the province.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program is a comprehensive policy approach to hold Canadian producers, importers, and brand owners accountable for reducing the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Currently, Ontario's recycling costs are split by municipalities and by Stewardship Ontario, a non-profit organization that collects fees from importers, manufacturers, and brand owners of packaging products that end up in our blue bins. In contrast, EPR is a 'cradle to grave' model of product management, which maintains that the producer must manage the product's entire lifespan. This includes waste reduction, recovery, recycling, and reuse.

Toronto is home to the fourth-largest municipal waste system in North America, managing approximately 200,000 tonnes of recyclables annually through its Blue Bin Recycling Program. Waste audits have indicated that contamination in the City's Blue Bin program has been increasing since 2013, which is costing the City millions annually. There is a lack of awareness of the negative implications of improper disposal. In 2017, more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in our Blue Bins. If you are interested, you can find more information on the City's Waste Wizard webpage.

The EPR model will lead to improved recycling practices by rendering the producer wholly responsible for the physical and financial aspects of the disposal of both the product and the packaging. There are also numerous benefits to making the shift for Toronto taxpayers. A producer-run system could encourage manufacturers to create materials that are easier to recycle and become less reliant on single-use plastics. Currently, the materials that can and can't be recycled vary from city to city, and in some cases, it even varies from homes to industrial buildings.

Switching to the EPR model would likely mean that recycling practices would become standardized across the province, eliminating confusion and reducing contamination. I support implementing the Extended Producer Responsibility model to ensure that the City's waste is mindfully managed in a manner that respects our natural environment and benefits the residents of Toronto.

Amendments to the Noise By-Law

Various international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are raising awareness of the impacts noise pollution can have on our health. Toronto Public Health is currently working with City partners to develop a comprehensive Noise Action Plan to mitigate environmental noise. In a parallel effort, the Municipal Licensing and Standards division has undertaken a review of the City's Noise By-law to regulate episodic types of noise.

In April, City Council approved updates to Toronto’s Noise By-Law (Municipal Code, Chapter 591), including new and updated definitions, noise level limits, and a more streamlined exemption permit process. These changes will come into effect on October 1, 2019. More information on the Noise By-Law Review can be found online, here.

I supported specific provisions discouraging overnight events and construction activity, requesting the Provincial government to review its noise guidelines, and directing city staff to monitor and report back on the implementation and impact of the amendments.

To reduce your exposure, Toronto Public Health has recommended the following actions to residents:

  • Buy Quiet – select and purchase low-noise tools and appliances, including leafblowers

  • Maintain tools and appliances routinely

  • Reduce the volume on your television and portable music devices

  • Isolate the noise source in an insulated room or enclosure

  • Use sound barriers, such as double paned windows, weather stripping or planting trees to act as a buffer between the noise source and your family

  • Wear an ear protection device for noisy commutes or other inescapable noisy environments

If you experience any specific noise-related issues, I would encourage you to report the incident to 311 for further investigation.

Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park Playgrounds are Now Open!

Despite a delayed start due to an unseasonably rainy spring, I'm pleased to announce that the new playgrounds at Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park are now open to the public!

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After years of hard work and extensive consultation with the community, Banbury Park and Mossgrove Park are now home to brand new playgrounds.

A new junior play structure was installed at Banbury Park, featuring a mini summit climber, lolliladder, tight rope, and smart play cube. At Mossgrove Park, staff installed a new playground complete with swings, slides, and a teeter-totter, along with a unique "bamboo jungle" fitness component.

Some of the damaged turf areas at Mossgrove Park will remain fenced off to protect the newly-restored grass. The protective fencing is anticipated to be removed before the fall.

Many thanks for your patience and engagement throughout this process.

Playgrounds are a critical element of a complete, liveable community and I hope you are all as excited about these new improvements to the neighbourhood as I am!

Update on Toronto's Gypsy Moth Program

Last month, the City of Toronto began its Aerial Spray program.

The program will be conducted until June 15 to manage the high levels of gypsy moth caterpillars in certain Toronto neighbourhoods. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak and other tree species, which can severely weaken or kill trees.

The first round of treatment was applied from May 26-27 and a second round will be applied from June 6-7 in some areas of Ward 15. Residents are encouraged to check for updates on the City's website here, or call 311 for additional information. A map of the designated spray areas, which identifies each location's specific spray date, is also available here.

During the aerial spray, two helicopters will fly about 15 to 30 metres above the tree canopy to apply a biological insecticide. The product must be applied directly to tree foliage, as gypsy moth caterpillars must feed on the treated leaves for the insecticide to be effective. No special precautions are required for residents in the spray zone.

In addition to ground-based control methods, the Aerial Spray program is an important initiative to protect the City's tree canopy.

Ward 15 Community Environment Days

On April 6th and May 9th, neighbours from across Ward 15 joined my team and I at York Mills Collegiate Institute and Leaside Memorial Community Gardens to donate and recycle their used materials. Ward 15 had two of the most well-attended Community Environment Days in the entire City of Toronto!
 
Thanks to the incredible engagement from residents at this year's event, there was an overwhelming amount of donations that went to help local schools and community organizations. The Toronto Salvation Army even brought in a second collection truck to accommodate all of the great donations they received! 
 
Countless electronics and household hazardous waste items were also brought to my Environment Day for safe disposal. The free compost was particularly popular as families geared up for spring gardening.
 
I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with many friends, as well as new neighbours, about local Ward 15 initiatives. Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to say hello - without your contributions, donations and disposals, my Environment Day events would not have been such a great success.
 
I also would like to thank the dedicated volunteers, organizations, and staff who attended. It was great to see so many City divisions involved including Toronto Water, Live Green Toronto, Solid Waste Management Services and 311. Community organizations such as Cycle Toronto, the David Suzuki Blue Dot Group, Enbridge Gas and the Salvation Army also made important contributions, both in terms of donation collections and providing information to residents about their organizations.
 
These are some of my favourite events in Ward 15 and I am already looking forward to next year's Community Environment Days!
 
For a list of events hosted by other Toronto City Councillors, please visit the City of Toronto's website here.

Save the Date: My Annual Community Environment Days

My Environment Day is a great opportunity to clear out items found during spring cleaning such as used electronics and household hazardous waste. Due to the recently expanded Ward boundaries, I will be hosting not one, but two Community Environment Days this year!

Day 1:
Date: Saturday, April 6
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: York Mills Collegiate Institute (490 York Mills Road - East Parking Lot)

Day 2:
Date:
 Thursday, May 9
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Leaside Memorial Community Gardens (1073 Millwood Road)
 
You can bring everything from old computer equipment to compact and fluorescent light bulbs for disposal and recycling. You can also bring items for donation such as sporting goods, books and gently-used dishes. 

City staff will also be giving out one cubic meter of compost per household - for free!

Several groups that have partnered with the City on this program will also be attending, including:

  • Solid Waste Management Services

  • Toronto Water

  • Live Green Toronto

  • 311 Toronto

  • Toronto Hydro

  • The Salvation Army 

For more information on upcoming Community Environment Days, visit the City of Toronto's website here.

Slow Down Signs Available

"Slow Down" signs are an effective way to remind drivers to respect the speed limit - especially on local and residential streets.If you're interested in getting a sign for your lawn, you can pick one up at one of my upcoming Environment Days!

Quantity is limited - signs will be given out on a first come, first serve basis.

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Snow and Ice Removal

Last week's extreme cold and heavy snowfall made for a difficult week for residents of Ward 15. Staff in my office worked hard in the wake of heavy snowfall to respond to concerned residents, many of whom found themselves deeply inconvenienced and even trapped by the record-breaking snowfall. Even with the more temperate weather this past weekend, I was still hearing from concerned residents and directing city staff to plow the remaining issue areas.
 
While I'm thankful for our hard-working Road Operations staff, I share your disappointment with the City's lack of preparedness for January's snowfall. I will be meeting with the Mayor and the General Manager, Transportation Services to discuss how we can improve the City's response to future snow events.  Additionally, I will be following up on a motion I brought to council last April to ask staff to report on recommendations to improve the City's response to extreme weather events in Toronto.
 
You can find more information about snow and ice removal on the City's website, here. For live updates on the City's snow plow progress, please see PlowTO. If you are having difficulty clearing snow and ice or have concerns about a negligent property owner, please contact 311.
 
Please also be reminded that residents responsible for clearing their own properties are required to do so within 12 hours of a snowfall.

Get the new TOwaste App!

Find out what waste items go where, what waste to put out when and where to donate items or find City Drop-off Depots with the new TOwaste App.

Key features include:

The Waste Wizard search tool with information on how to properly dispose of over 2,000 items.

  • Collection schedules for daytime curbside customers.

  • The ability to set reminders for your collection day and opt-in for alerts about service changes.

  • Information about where to find donation locations or City Drop-off Depots.

The TOwaste App is free to download and available for iOS and Android devices. 

Download today!

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Renewable Natural Gas Facility

To further our goal of becoming a city with a circular economy, the City of Toronto's Solid Waste Management Services (SWMS) Division is teaming up with Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. to begin creating renewable gas from Green Bin waste.
 
As part of this initiative, new equipment will be installed at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility later this year that will allow raw biogas – produced from Toronto's Green Bin Organics – to be made into renewable natural gas (RNG). This process uses a "closed-loop" approach, since the RNG will ultimately be used to power 132, or 90%, of the City's heavy duty collection vehicles!
 
The state-of-the-art Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility is one of the only two locations in the City where organic material is broken down by using innovative pre-processing and anaerobic digestion technology. The biogas upgrading taking place at this facility is a cutting edge initiative that will play a major role in helping achieve the City's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint.
 
As Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I have worked hard over the course of this term to create and implement strategies that reduce waste and benefit the environment. RNG is proven as a way to make the natural gas system even greener. Collaborating with SWMS and Enbridge on the RNP project is a big step forward for the City's Long Term Waste Management Strategy and for future renewable gas projects.

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Binational Action on Protecting the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) is a binational coalition of 131 American and Canadian mayors working with a wide array of stakeholders to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
 
I am honoured to serve as the Mayor's designate to the GLSLCI. Their notable initiatives include efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, incorporate innovative technology in conservation strategies, and manage invasive species such as zebra mussels and Asian carp. Their work is critical, as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River contain over 21% of the world's freshwater supply and provide drinking water for over 40 million people.
 
At the GLSLCI 2018 Conference in June, I represented the City of Toronto in discussions on extreme weather events, flooding, coastal resilience, and green infrastructure. As Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I'm committed to supporting initiatives undertaken by the GLSLCI to advance the protection of our shared freshwater resources. At Committee, I recently moved to accelerate the rehabilitation of the Don River and Central Waterfront, a first step towards delisting Toronto as a polluted "Area of Concern" in the Great Lakes.
 
You can read more about my efforts to clean up the Don River, here. For more information about initiatives related to climate change, invasive species, and microplastics, check out the GLSLCI website, here.

As the Mayor's designate to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI),  I met with municipal leaders from across North America at the Annual Conference in June, including (from left to right) Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls, NY, Mayor Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga, and GLSLCI President John Dickert, former Mayor of Racine, WI.

As the Mayor's designate to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI),  I met with municipal leaders from across North America at the Annual Conference in June, including (from left to right) Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls, NY, Mayor Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga, and GLSLCI President John Dickert, former Mayor of Racine, WI.

Tips to Save Water This Summer

In response to the recent heat wave, Toronto Water is reminding residents that there are steps they can take to conserve water and reduce their utility bill during summer, the season of highest water use.
 
Toronto Water customers can use the City of Toronto's online water use tool, MyWaterToronto, to better understand their water use and to learn about strategies to save water and money. MyWaterToronto can even be used to check for leaks, which tend to add up very quickly when water usage is high. According to Carlo Casale, Manager of Customer Care at Toronto Water, even a small 1.5-millimetre hole in a pipe can add more than $13 to your utility bill each day.
 
Customers who receive a utility bill can access the tool by visiting http://www.toronto.ca/mywatertoronto and entering their utility account information. The tool can be used to track water use by day, week, month or year.
 
In addition to fixing leaks, other ways to save water during the summer include:

  • Using rainwater to water your grass and gardens.
  • Planting native plants and trees, which are low maintenance and naturally drought-tolerant.
  • Sweeping sidewalks and driveways clean instead of using a running hose.
  • Using a rain gauge to keep track of rainfall – healthy lawns only need 2.5 centimetres of water once a week.
    • If you have an irrigation system, set your system to come on once or twice a week, or install rain sensors.
  • Watering lawns in the morning to reduce evaporation.
    • Laying mulch can also help retain moisture and insulate roots from heat stress.
  • Setting your lawn mower to cut 6 to 7.5 centimetres - mowing high helps to strengthen the roots and retain water and nutrients.
  • Keeping a jug of water in the fridge instead of running the tap to draw cold drinking water.

 For more water conservation tips, visit http://www.toronto.ca/water.

My Environment Day Wrap-Up

On May 5th, neighbours from all over Ward 25 joined me at the York Mills Collegiate Institute to donate and recycle their used materials. Ward 25 had one of the most well-attended Community Environment Days in the City of Toronto!
 
Thanks to the incredible engagement from residents at this year's event, there was an overwhelming amount of donations that went to help local schools and community organizations. The Toronto Salvation Army even had to bring in a second collection truck to accommodate all of the great donations they received!  
 
Countless electronics, household hazardous waste items and used pens were also brought to my Environment Day for safe disposal, making the City of Toronto more green and clean. In the interest of being green, free compost was in high demand at my event as families geared up for spring gardening.
 
I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with many friends in the ward, as well as new neighbours, about both achievements and emerging issues in Ward 25. Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to say hello - without your contributions, donations and disposals, my Environment Day would not have been such a great success.
 
I also would like to thank the dedicated volunteers, organizations, and staff who attended. It was great to see so many City divisions involved in my Community Environment Day including Toronto WaterSolid Waste Management Services and 311. Community organizations such as Live Green TorontoToronto Hydro and the Salvation Army made major contributions to my Environment Day as well, both in terms of donation collections and providing information to residents about their organizations.
 
This is one my favourite events in Ward 25 and I am already looking forward to next year's Community Environment Day!

My Environment Day on May 5th - Save the Date!

My Environment Day will be held on Saturday, May 5 at York Mills Collegiate and is a great opportunity to clear out items found during your spring cleaning, such as used electronics and household hazardous waste.
 
You can bring everything from old computer equipment to compact and fluorescent light bulbs for disposal and recycling. You can also bring items for donation such as sporting goods, books and gently-used dishes. 
 
We will also be giving out one cubic meter of compost per household - for free! (Limited quantity available) 

Several groups are collaborating with the City on this program, including:

  • Toronto Water
  • Solid Waste Management Services
  • Live Green Toronto
  • 311 Toronto
  • Toronto Hydro
  • The Salvation Army
  • Artsjunktion

Slow Down Signs Available


"Slow Down" signs are an effective way to remind drivers to respect the speed limit - especially on local and residential streets. If you're interested in getting a sign for your lawn, you can pick one up at my Environment Day on Saturday, May 5th at York Mills Collegiate!

Quantity is limited - one sign per household will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. 

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RECYCLING RIGHT

Help curb contamination in Toronto's Blue Bin recycling program. 

Contamination in Toronto's Blue Bins has significantly increased in recent years. When Blue Bins are contaminated with too many non-recyclable items, the recyclable materials cannot be sorted adequately – resulting in recyclable items being sent to landfill. 
 
Contaminated recycling not only impacts our environment negatively by increasing the strain on our landfills, but it also costs the City millions annually. Just last year, more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in Blue Bins. In order to achieve our goal of a 70% waste diversion rate by 2026, we need to do better.
 
Solid Waste Management Services (SWMS) is using a progressive approach to reduce contamination. Blue Bins are being inspected prior to pick-up, with bins that are contaminated being tagged and left behind on collection day. Notices indicating why the bin was not collected are left with the contaminated garbage, requesting residents to remove the contamination before the next recycling collection day.
 
While it is still early in the program, the City has seen positive results in the reduction of contamination following the implementation of Blue Bin inspections.

Know before you throw!

Food and organic waste such as food scraps and containers with leftover food have been top Blue Bin contamination offenders. Old clothing and textiles also do not belong in the Blue Bin. Instead, donate or bring items to my Environment Day this summer! Another common mistake is recycling hot beverage cups in the blue bin, these are lined with plastic or wax that cannot be recycled. However, non-black plastic lids and paper sleeves should be placed in the Blue Bin.
 
You can help improve the City's waste diversion by learning which bins your waste goes into. Ask the Waste Wizard to find out where and how to properly dispose of any specific item.
 
The City of Toronto's Solid Waste Management Services 2018 calendar is packed with information and tips on how to reduce, reuse and dispose of your waste properly, and includes a "Put Waste in its Place" Poster to help you figure out what goes in the Blue Bin, Green Bin, Garbage Bin and more!

Know before you throw!

Know before you throw!

Municipal Stewardship of the Great Lakes

In December, I was honoured to welcome mayors and municipal leaders from across Canada and the U.S. to Toronto for the mid-year meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSCI). The GLSCI is a binational coalition of 131 mayors from Ontario, Quebec, and the eight American Great Lakes states who advocate for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The Great Lakes are a critical and irreplaceable resource, and I was inspired by the GLSCI's commitment to their continued protection.
 
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River contain approximately 20% of the world's freshwater supply and provide drinking water for over 40 million people. The impacts of the Lakes are so broad that it is necessary to collaborate across national and regional boundaries to ensure their protection. The GLSCI's notable initiatives include efforts to ban the production and distribution of products containing microbeads, mitigate the impacts of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, incorporate innovative technology in conservation strategies, and manage invasive species such as zebra mussels and Asian carp.
 
In Toronto, we are undertaking various initiatives of our own to protect the Great Lakes water system. For example, a 25-year, multibillion dollar infrastructure project is currently underway to reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) in the Don River as a part of the City's Wet Weather Flow Master Plan. Most combined sewers were constructed as long as a century ago, and utilize one pipe to carry both sewage and stormwater. Usually this combined water is diverted to wastewater treatment plants, however, during periods of intense rainfall, the volume of water may exceed the system's capacity. In this circumstance, untreated sewage and garbage water will be deposited, untreated, into creeks, rivers, and Lake Ontario. This process can pollute our freshwater lakes with bacteria, pathogens, heavy metals, oils, pesticides, and nutrients which can cause undesired algae growth. The City is currently in Stage One of a five-stage program that aims to virtually eliminate CSO. This project serves as an example of how activities under the purview of individual municipalities can have a massive impact on a shared resource, the Great Lakes.

I am committed to advancing Toronto's legacy of leadership in freshwater conservation initiatives. In order to do so, we must continue to collaborate with municipalities across the continent through avenues such as the GLSCI. Stewardship of this invaluable freshwater resource is our collective responsibility.

As Chair of Public Works, I was honoured to welcome mayors & local leaders from across the continent to discuss the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes.

As Chair of Public Works, I was honoured to welcome mayors & local leaders from across the continent to discuss the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes.

Protect your Pipes!

Be prepared!

Protect your pipes from freezing.

 

Frozen pipes can leave you without water or cause your pipes to burst, leading to expensive property damage. If your pipes are prone to freezing, you may wish to contact a plumber for advice. Here are some tips to help protect your home:

  • Know where to find your main water shut-off valve (in case your pipes burst).

  • Insulate pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, the attic and garage.

  • Seal air leaks in areas where pipes are located. Check around windows and doors, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.

  • Drain and shut the outdoor water supply as outdoor faucets are the first to freeze.

  • Keep areas that contain indoor pipes above 8°C, especially near the water meter.

  • In extreme cold weather, you can choose to run a pencil thin stream of water to keep water moving. However, you will be charged for the water used if you choose this step.

For more information, visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes.