Solid Waste

Compostable Coffee Pods

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’m committed to helping Toronto reach its waste diversion target of 70 percent.

With approximately 1 in 4 households in Canada using single-serve coffee brewers, millions of single-serve coffee pods are going to landfill each and every year.

Most coffee pods are made entirely or partly from plastic and thus come with a heavy environmental cost. However, a number of coffee companies – including Toronto-based businesses – are developing pods that are more environmentally friendly, including compostable and recyclable options.

With that in mind, I moved a motion at the October meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee requesting the city review the impacts of coffee pods on our waste management system, including our recycling and organics programs.

Close collaboration between the coffee industry, the City of Toronto and the province is a key piece of this review. As we encourage the industry to continue to develop more environmentally sustainable products, we also need to consider the central role of municipalities, who are responsible for processing the products through to end of life.

City staff will be reporting back in 2017 – stay tuned!

Waste Disposal Tips

Often during the holiday season, we see a spike in household waste.

That’s why we all need to do our part to dispose of our waste in the right bin. The city is working to meet a waste diversion target of 70% – and knowing what goes where is key to achieving this goal.

Fortunately, the city’s easy-to-use Waste Wizard can help you sort your waste.

In addition, collection calendars are being delivered over the next few weeks. If you haven’t received your calendar by December 19, please contact 311.

You can also visit the city’s Garbage & Recycling webpage for more information and tips.

Not Wanted in Your Blue Bin Campaign

Solid Waste Management Services has launched a new campaign this summer to bring awareness to residents about reducing blue bin recycling contamination.

In 2015, approximately 45,000 tonnes of garbage and organic waste were mistakenly put in the recycling.

Blue bin contamination is a problem for a number of reasons:

  • The Material Recovery Facility (MRF) can separate some contamination, but there is a limit to the amount it can remove.
  • Loads that exceed an accepted level of contamination may end up in a landfill.
  • Removing contaminated materials from recyclable materials increases costs.

Here are some of the most common culprits:

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2015 Residential Waste Diversion Rates & Long Term Waste Management Strategy

The city has completed its Long Term Waste Management Strategy (LTWMS) – and it was unanimously supported at my Public Works meeting this June.

This Strategy is going to guide Toronto’s waste management plans for the next 30 to 50 years. A key part of the plan focuses on leveraging our existing, internationally renowned waste management programs to reduce waste and increase diversion.

The LTWMS recommits the city to a 70 percent waste diversion target – and we have a lot of work ahead to reach that goal. Last year, our overall residential waste diversion rate was 52% – that actually brings us back down to our 2012 rate.

In light of the recently passed Waste-Free Ontario Act, I believe Toronto should strive to do even better – let’s make our city the first “Zero Waste” municipality in the Province of Ontario!

To get Toronto on the zero waste path, I moved a motion at the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee meeting directing staff develop a detailed plan and schedule to reach a target of zero organics found the garbage. Almost 40 percent of the 500,000 tonnes of residential garbage sent to landfill by the City of Toronto every year is organic material that should be put in the green bin.

I also directed staff to develop a plan to get green bins and recycling into all buildings, including apartment buildings. In 2015, multi-unit residential buildings had a waste diversion rate of 27 percent, compared to 65 percent in single family homes – that’s why we need to prioritize improving waste diversion in this sector.

These motions are great steps forward in moving the city towards zero waste.

Click here to read my motions.

You can also read the full, 100-page Long Term Waste Management Strategy here.

The City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy

City staff are in the midst of developing a Long Term Waste Management Strategy that will help define Toronto’s waste management plans for the next thirty years.

The city is casting its net widely to consider the newest methods of waste management and disposal.

An update on the Long Term Waste Management Strategy came before the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on September 22, 2015. You can read the report here. The final report is expected in Spring 2016.

Click here for the latest news on the Long Term Waste Management Strategy.

Top Tips for Summer

Yard Waste

From mid-March to December, leaf and yard waste is collected every other week on your scheduled garbage day. City staff advise that you should wait until the evening before your collection date to put your waste on the curb.

The city collects plant and tree trimmings, weeds, brush and bundles of branches, but does not collect soil, sod, grass clippings, logs or tree stumps. Instead, compost grass clippings or reuse them on your lawn – an easy way to maintain nutrient-rich soil!

Toronto Water

Gardening

  • Disconnect your downspout and use rainwater to water your grass and gardens.

  • Extra watering is not always required – the rain is often enough.

  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways clean instead of using a hose.

  • Start planning your water-efficient, natural garden using native plants and trees.

Environment and Water Efficiency

  • Use commercial car wash facilities to wash your car – they are required to follow a set of practices determined by the city, including treating wastewater and discharging it into the sanitary sewer system where it will receive further treatment.

  • A leaky toilet or tap can cost an extra $600/month – fix leaks to avoid being charged.

  • It costs only $0.002 to fill a reusable water bottle.

  • Pool water may contain chemicals. Click here for pool drainage tips and advice.

  • The city doesn’t conduct door-to-door water tests – be careful of sales people making that claim.

For more information on how you can be more water efficient, please click here.

Waste Diversion News

As the Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I’m pleased to share that we’ve made significant progress on diverting waste from landfills!

As of June 1st, Solid Waste Management will accept “stretchy” plastic products. These include:

  • Milk bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Newspaper/flyer bags
  • Produce and vegetable bags

With this change, staff anticipate that 3,500 tonnes of waste will be diverted from landfills. This puts us even closer to achieving a 70% total diversion rate!

For a complete list of items that you can recycle in your blue bin, click here.

Long-Term Waste Management Strategy

As the Chair of Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve been working hard to ensure that we have a sustainable Long Term Waste Management Strategy.

Work on the strategy, which will recommend management changes and programs, is currently underway.

Your thoughts are crucial to developing the best waste policies for the next 30-50 years. To get involved or share your ideas, click here.

Waste Disposal Tips – What Goes Where?

Recycling (Blue Bins)
Many of the products we consume come in packaging that can be recycled rather than sent to landfills! These include beverage and food containers, home and personal product containers, takeout food containers, retail shopping bags and paper.

Organics (Green Bins)
The benefit of properly disposing organic waste is that it can be reused as compost down the line! This includes food waste, coffee grinds, and animal waste.

Garbage (Black/Grey Bins or Yellow Bags)
Many of the items we dispose of can be reused or recycled as noted above. If, however, items must make their way to the landfill, it’s important to know what’s accepted and what’s not.

Household Hazardous Waste
Batteries, cleaning products and paint are all examples of waste that should be disposed of responsibly. The city offers a free service called Toxic Taxi, which allows residents to request a free pick-up of hazardous waste. For a complete list of what counts as hazardous waste and for drop-off depot locations, please visit this link.

Electronic Waste
As technology improves, we are constantly turning over devices and electronics. Including everything from cell phones to fax machines, e-waste can be part of your curbside collection. For more information on what it includes and how to set it out, please visit this link.

Don’t forget to think of others when considering the disposal of items in your home! The City’sReUseIt program offers information on how to donate unwanted items to not-for-profit agencies.

If you have any questions about what can or cannot be disposed of, you can also contact 311 – they would be happy to help!

Chair, Public Works & Infrastructure Committee

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

I’m honoured to serve as Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, one of the city’s seven Standing Committees.

I asked for a substantive portfolio and Public Works is it

With a budget of more than $2 billion, Public Works oversees four of the city’s key divisions – Transportation Services, Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management and Engineering & Construction Services. It’s responsible for an incredibly diverse array of issues: congestion, gridlock, drinking water, storm sewers, roads, bridges, sidewalks, highways, speed limits, bike lanes, bike safety, waste collection, recycling and street furniture, to name a few!

Traffic, gridlock and congestion were front and centre during the campaign – in Ward 25 and across the city – and, as I told the Toronto Sun, “it’s my number one priority.”

Last week, I sat down with Stephen Buckley, the General Manager of Transportation Services, to discuss what we can do right now to improve congestion and to tour our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre.

Briefings with other key staff and divisional leads are already scheduled – it’s a big job and I can’t wait to get to work!