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AN EDITORIAL BY LINDSAY BUTLER

Long gone are the days of throwing your trash into one black bag, tossing it to the curb and forgetting about it. 
 
Toronto has had the blue bin, parts of the city have seen the green bin – but what if the two lived side by side, in your kitchen? Such will be the case if Toronto’s Task Force 2010 follows the lead of city councillors in Guelph, Ontario.
Task Force 2010 is made up of Toronto’s city council with a goal of developing a “made in Toronto” solution for waste diversion. According to the operator of  Toronto’s Green Bin Program, Toronto is currently recycling and composting only a quarter of its close to one million tonnes of garbage. Task Force 2010 hopes to have the city’s landfill diversion rate up to 60 per cent by 2008 and full diversion by 2010.

The group has proposed a three stream waste system much like that used in Guelph, a city that has made drastic changes in composting wet garbage and reducing half the amount of unrecycled garbage. What started as the two bag Wet/Dry program in 1995, with a green bag for “wet” materials  (food scraps and other biodegradables) and a blue bag for “dry” items (recyclables), developed into Wet/Dry Plus with the addition of a third “clear” bag for dry items that are not recyclable, in early 2003. The bags are made clear so collectors can tell if garbage has been sorted properly. If not, the bags are tagged and left on the curb for residents to re-sort and put out again for collection the next week or to take to a landfill site themselves.

After the system was introduced, Guelph saw their landfill diversion rate jump to over 50 per cent from 20, a credible start for a city whose residents first grumbled about having to sort their garbage into three streams.  
                
The pros of the program clearly outweigh the cons to residents, as almost all Guelphites are currently using the Wet/Dry Plus system. Dry waste has been reduced by over half and wet waste by 67 per cent.

The introduction of the green bin is making significant improvements to the way Toronto thinks about garbage. A news release from the city says more than 95 per cent of the eligible 510,000 households are currently participating in weekly curbside collection of wet garbage, which makes up 30 per cent of average household waste. Combined with the city’s recycling and yard waste composting programs, residents are diverting more than half of their waste from the landfill.
Columbia found the total cost for a sorting centre is around $36 million ($24 million for construction and $12 million for approval, legal fees, public consultation,  monitoring, design and consulting fees).

It may not be a “made in Toronto” solution, but it’s one answer to Toronto’s growing garbage problems.

       
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