Toronto's 'Target 70': Re-Vamping Waste Collection for Homes and Multi-Unit Buildings

Jesse in Lifestyle, Urban IssuesTarget70_123ani

With 2008 underway, Toronto is only two years away from fulfilling its pledge to reduce its waste by 70%. Appropriately titled ‘Target70’, a large portion of this ambitious reduction lies in the roll-out of larger blue boxes and the introduction of grey boxes; the green bins for organic waste remain the same.

Residents of single-family homes west of Victoria Park Avenue and east of Yonge Street have until January 18, 2008 to place their order for their new blue bins, which are free, and scheduled for February delivery. The three sizes of blue bins are medium, large and extra-large; ranked similar to the ambiguous sizes of popcorn one finds at movie theatres, is the medium not a small? Aimed to hold two weeks worth of recyclable matter for every household, only one blue bin per home will be permitted; any recycling in excess of what the bin can hold should be kept until the next scheduled pick-up date, generally two weeks later. Residents who did not place their order by their deadline will receive a default large size bin - if this is too small, an exchange fee* will be set by the City at a later date.

The introduction of grey boxes (exclusively for solid waste) is also set for 2008. Based on volume of waste, you will be charged a fee per year* for garbage pick-up depending on which bin size out of the four is chosen (the smallest size is free). Because garbage collection is included in property taxes, every single-family household will receive a tax credit of the amount collected on property taxes. This credit is meant to go towards solid waste collection which will appear on a newly combined bill, Toronto Water/Solid Waste. The idea of this program is, according to the City of Toronto website, to link “costs to volume of garbage” meaning “residents who reduce garbage will pay less.”

As a condo owner, I have been curious about how this will be implemented into multi-unit buildings. Many buildings across Toronto do not take part in the green bin program. Currently there are thirty buildings that are piloting this and testing whether this program, active in Toronto since 2003, is feasible for buildings. I have home owner friends and family who privately compost and avoid the green bin altogether because they find the smell offensive; a very dear friend sternly warned me against installing any kind of compost-facility on my roof once she saw my eyes light up at the thought. Embarrassed to admit the fact that as I tout my environmental awareness, in the same breath I cannot say I am looking forward to communal organic waste collection.

A portion of the money collected from the Toronto Water/Solid Waste bill will go towards installation of the green bin program into buildings as well as increasing the convenience of recycling. There is a lack of clarification as to which step of the recycling process is to benefit from this; I currently walk ten steps down the hallway to the communal recycling bins, having unit-to-unit collection will be the only way this could be any more convenient. As for the grey bin program, no one will be exempt.  Little is explained about how it will be instituted in buildings.

With condominiums being erected all over the city and adding to the already numerous amount of buildings in Toronto, it’s a wonder why this program has not been implemented sooner.   

*all costs are subject to change until the 2008 City budget is approved.

Jesse Fleming is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Email Jesse

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