Article: Critics Trash City Recycling Plans

Paul Moloney, Toronto Star, Sept. 14, 2000.

Need to divert more waste from landfill, works committee told

Toronto’s new recycling plans to be trashed by environmentalists as too little too late.

Toronto hasn’t done enough to encourage people to discard food waste for separate pickup and composting, the works committee was told yesterday.

“I walked around city hall trying to dispose of an apple core and I couldn’t find a compost bin,” said Tooker Gomberg, an environmentalists who’s running for mayor.

Gomberg said other cities are recycling and composting half their garbage but in Toronto, only 25 per cent of residential waste is kept out of the landfill site.

New measures approved by works committee yesterday seek to recycle and compost about 50,000 times the 1 million tonnes of residential garbage generated each year.

The measures include:

Adding milk costumes, juice boxes and empty paint and aerosol cans to the Blue Box next March 1, assuming money is available.

Bumping up recycling pickup to once a week, and collecting yard waste weekly in the summer, assuming money is available.

Testing improved recycling systems at two downtown apartment buildings at a cost of $40,000.

Spending $50,000 to hire eight students next summer to encourage apartment manages and tenants to improve recycling.

Conducting an eight-month pilot test of 2,400 households, which would be encouraged to separate food waste for composting.

“Why are you doing a pilot?” wondered Gord Perks, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “These are proven techniques.” Perks said Toronto stock should encourage apartment recycling.

Composting and recycling would have to grow by 250,000 tons a year to reach a target set by the city several years ago, said Councillor Jack Layton (Don River). Layton proposed raising the target but that was rejected by the committee. The new recycling measures go to city council in early October for final approval.

He was incensed that the committee didn’t even go along with his suggestion to place recycling bins in city parks next summer. Instead, the committee voted to study the idea.

Also yesterday a proposal from Councillor Bill Saundercook (York-Humber) to limit homeowners to three bags of garbage a week was quickly tossed out.

Committee members said the idea was unworkable and raised fears of people dumping bags illegally around the city.