February 14, 2006

It's Time for Toronto and Ontario to be Realistic About Their Garbage

Who can take our trash to Michigan? A burning desire for power What does it take for Toronto to get their heads around the fact that they need a real solution to their garbage situation? After landfill controversies with other Ontario municipalities, the impending threat of Michigan banning exports, Toronto now has to deal with trucking companies not wanting to ship the city's garbage. I've posted about this a couple times already (here and here). I've proposed ideas that have worked elsewhere in Canada (Alberta and Nova Scotia). These places also had to deal with trash problems and were able to develop viable alternatives to just simply trash dumping. It's time Toronto faces the fact that we're in the new millenium and using old, simplistic models of trash solutions won't cut it. It's time to realize their is advanced technology and even better ideas and solutions that can be used.

  • The Alberta model is a public/private venture of a factory that turns all garbage, minus heavy metals, into compost.
  • The Nova Scotia model is strict, but easy-to-follow guidelines that encourages mass composting and recycling. The plan has cut Nova Scotia's landfill by over 50%.
  • Developing a tire recycling plan. Recycled tires can be used for residential insulation, playground equipment, etc.
  • There are some newer ideas being developed in the realm of incinerators and waste-to-energy plants that have real potential to be almost free of emissions and can also produce ashphalt and bricks to be used in construction.

There are, like all most things, both positives and negatives to some of these ideas, especially the last one. However, they all need to get serious consideration because the status quo isn't a broken system at best. Therefore, it's time Toronto, and Ontario, do some real exploration of the issue. Combining two or more of these ideas could solve many problems and possibly help in others. It is obvious that shipping garbage to Michigan's landfills is becoming more trouble than its worth and therefore it's time come up with some real alternatives.


Candace said...

How come Toronto ships it's garbage anyway? That is just the weirdest thing I've ever heard. Surely to goodness there's a few acres of land somewhere??? Or is it a serious case of NIMBY?

Mark Francis said...

There's a huge history. The Keele Valley landfill site, which is what Toronto used until recently, filled up (and then some). Before then, the Province went nuts looking for a new site. It named several, but when Harris got into power he had that all cancelled as he favoured shipping the garbage by rail to a mine in Northern Ontario (Adams Mine). This, of source, was a project several buddies of his were pushing. The problem was, the mine leaked, and would ruin the groundwater, unless a never-tired before water purification system worked. It had all the hallmarks of a convoluted plan to deprive taxpayers of money and to leave them with a remedial mess. Eventually, it was scrapped by Toronto by one vote in council.

Toronto does want to develop a near-zero landfill use system. There is some progress in that direction.

Good garbage dump sites are hard to come by when you consider how built up Southern Ontario is. There is NIMBY as well, but groundwater contamination is a serious issue which compromises most sites.

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