Platform: The Gomberg for Mayor Platform Plank on Waste Management

The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on Waste Management.

Nothing to waste.

Historically human beings disposed of garbage by leaving it where if fell. As settlements organized, debris built up. This is now a problem of significant proportion.

Ultimately, our “waste crisis” can be resolved only by eliminating the unnecessary use of resources, and by creating industries which use the resources provided by our “waste” stream, as outlined by our city’s recently passed Clean, Green and Healthy: A Plan for an Environmentally sustainable Toronto. This plan sets a target of 100% waste reduction by 2006.

We should be both eliminating and transforming waste. Every time we create a product there should be a plan in place of how to reuse its resources. CUPE 416’s wet/dry proposal is a great start, but we need to go much further, faster.

Sending our garbage to Michigan or Kirkland Lake are not viable solutions. This is band-aid planning that will result in the exportation of jobs and resources from our city. It will increase traffic and create tensions with our neighbours.

Fortunately, there are solutions to make use of Toronto’s waste resources in an ecological, economical, timely and socially responsible manner. As Mayor I would ensure the following:

1. We need Eco-Industrial Parks in the port lands and elsewhere to which we can divert from landfills. Ultimately, however, we need product stewardship legislation which forces producers to design products for disassembly (and/or composting). That is, “extended producer liability”. This means working with other levels of government, but the example of European municipalities shows much can be initiated by the City.

2. Taxation policy — or Ecological Tax Reform — is a way that we can move away from taxing property and work to taxing pollution and things we don’t want. Tax “bads”, not “goods”. It is a way we can encourage people-intensive production instead of production that uses lots of energy, materials, and capital.

3. Concerning the source separation issue, the overall strategy should be to encourage reuse over recycling. Recycling can be very energy-intensive and require no greater corporate liability. Reuse — and related aspects like re-manufacturing, repair, technical upgrading, etc. — requires more local/regional production, and it produces more high-skill creative jobs.

4. Product stewardship will reduce the waste stream significantly, however there are still products that will need recycling. If this remaining waste is separated into wet (organics) and dry streams; dry waste becomes less contaminated and therefore easier to reuse and the wet waste is available for composting (backyard, community scale and large scale).

5. Biogas is the best solution for our organic resource. Between 1/.3 and 1/2 of the residential “waste stream” is organic resource that could be turned into biogas, aka natural gas. That gas should be used for generating electricity, and heating and cooling for downtown buildings, as Enwave proposes. The Canada Composting Inc. facility in Newmarket shows how to do it.

6. Get the Toxics Out: We need an aggressive program to ensure that toxic materials, like leftover paint, kerosene, batteries, and drano don’t end up in the landfill, or in the compostable stream. A regular collection of toxic materials (eg. “toxic taxi”) should be funded by the producers of these poisonous materials.