November 6, 2020

Solid Waste Management Services is a rate-based program where single-family residents pay fees for services they receive based on the size of their garbage bin, and residents in multi-residential buildings with City waste collection pay based on the amount of garbage their buildings produce. The volume-based rate structure was designed to encourage residents to divert as much as possible away from landfill. Single-family residents with the largest garbage bins pay the most and those with the smallest pay the least. Multi-residential buildings that produce more garbage pay more than those that produce less.

In addition to residential garbage collection, Solid Waste Management Services fees pay for unlimited collection and processing of recycling, yard waste, organics, oversized and metal items, household hazardous waste and electronics. They also fund city-wide litter collection, Community Environment Days, street and parks bin collection, drop-off-depots, ongoing care of closed landfills and more.

Solid Waste Management Services is committed to ensuring that waste is collected in a safe, timely, reliable, and environmentally and financially sustainable way. The recommended 2021 budget provides funding to support the delivery of solid waste management programs and services as well as safety enhancements to trucks, state-of-good-repair projects for solid waste infrastructure and the continued development of renewable energy infrastructure. It also supports the continued implementation of the Long Term Waste Management Strategy and the long-term financial sustainability of Solid Waste Management Services’ operations and capital projects.

Solid Waste Management Services overview

  • Provides solid waste collection services to approximately 870,000 residential homes/units, businesses, institutions, charities, religious organizations, schools, and City divisions, agencies and corporations. Services include collection and management of green bin organics, blue bin recycling, garbage, oversized and metal items, yard waste, electronics and household hazardous waste.
  • Maintains and services approximately $780 million worth of infrastructure assets including seven transfer stations (six with household hazardous waste depots); one operating landfill (Green Lane Landfill) and 160 closed landfills; two organics processing facilities; 1.5 million residential bins; five yards; and approximately 690 vehicles and pieces of equipment.
  • Supports city beautification and cleanliness by collecting litter and waste from approximately 10,000 park bins and 10,100 street bins and providing cleanup for special events.
  • Manages more than 900,000 tonnes of waste each year. This includes garbage, recycling, organics, yard waste and more.

Budget overview

The recommended 2021 Solid Waste Management Services budget consists of:

  • an operating budget of $362.0 million plus a capital reserve contribution of $17.1 million;
  • a capital budget of $69.1 million (comprised of $51.4 million in planned 2021 funding and $17.7 million in funding carried forward from 2020);
  • a 10-year recommended capital plan of $737.5 million.

This budget allows Solid Waste Management Services to maintain all current service levels and allocates sufficient funds to the reserve to finance and support future capital needs over the 10-year capital plan timeframe.

Key priorities for 2021

  • Implementation of safety enhancements for collection trucks, such as side guards and in-cab cameras, and enhanced training to ensure the safety of staff and the public.
  • Preparation for the transition of the City’s blue bin recycling program to Extended Producer Responsibility to make it as seamless as possible for residents.
  • Continued advocacy for additional producer responsibility programs for other items managed by the City (e.g. mattresses, compostable plastics, textiles etc.).
  • Work to advance the development of renewable natural gas infrastructure at the Disco Road Organics Processing Facility to produce renewable natural gas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2022.
  • Continued implementation of the Long Term Waste Management Strategy with a focus on waste reduction, reuse and circular economy initiatives.
  • Continued advocacy and engagement with the provincial and federal governments and stakeholders on how to address the implications of managing new and evolving packaging and policy measures to reduce plastic waste and single-use and takeaway items.
  • Completion of a Circular Economy baselining study for Toronto and support for the 2021 World Circular Economy Forum, which is planned to take place in Toronto next fall.
  • Engagement with First Nations communities related to the City’s exploration and study of any landfill gas utilization opportunities at Green Lane Landfill and the establishment of a First Nations Engagement Grant Funding Program to support their participation in the process.
  • Continued exploration and study of long-term disposal options for Toronto’s garbage, including energy from waste, mixed waste processing and traditional landfilling.
  • Evaluation of what is accepted in Toronto’s diversion programs with a preliminary focus on the green bin program using a triple-bottom-line approach that looks at the social, environmental and financial implications of including certain items (e.g. diapers, hygiene products, etc.).
  • Continued conversion of the Solid Waste Management Services collection fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) to reduce noise, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs.
  • Completion of state-of-good-repair projects at landfills, transfer stations and collection yards.

Rate overview

  • Solid Waste Management Services is recommending a minimal rate increase of 1.5 per cent for all customers in 2021 in light of the financial pressures residents and businesses are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This reflects a decrease from the 2.7 per cent increase originally planned for 2021 as part of the 10-year financial plan put forth in 2020.
  • The reduced rate increases are recommended to take effect on January 1, 2021, to ensure that Solid Waste Management Services can continue to maintain and enhance service levels, cover rising operational costs and fund planned capital projects.

Fee changes

  • It is recommended that the annual Oversized and Metal Items Fee be increased by $3.85 from $15.90 to $19.75 to fully recover the costs for the program and allow for the recycling of more mattresses, which will increase diversion of waste away from landfill.
  • It is recommended that the price of items such as garbage bag tags, and commercial organics, recycling and garbage carts also increase by 1.5 per cent in 2021.

COVID-19-related program adjustments

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Solid Waste Management Services is recommending that in 2021, seven Community Environment Day events be held at City drop-off depots in the spring and up to 26 Community Environment Day events be held across the city throughout the summer and fall instead of 51 events across the city as has happened previously.

Operational program adjustments

Solid Waste Management Services is recommending that in 2021:

  • The mix of waste bins in parks be reviewed and adjusted with an aim to reduce litter, decrease contamination in recycling and increase diversion of organics.
  • The budget for promotion and education be reduced to offset budget pressures, while still allowing for sufficient funds to ensure continued public awareness related to priority program areas.
  • Information in waste collection calendars be provided online instead of printed/mailed to reduce costs. This would impact the 2022 calendar, which would be mailed at the end of 2021.

Priority actions over the next 10 years

  • Ensure that Solid Waste Management Services has sufficient funding to continue to maintain and enhance service levels, cover rising operational costs and fund planned capital projects.
  • Advance climate change resiliency projects that will reduce environmental impacts, support growth and allow the City to manage risk, including:
    • the acceleration of a third organics processing facility (begin building in 2024 instead of 2036)
    • renewable energy infrastructure at additional City waste management facilities to further increase greenhouse gas emission reductions.
  • Continue to foster and strengthen relationships with First Nations communities in close proximity to Green Lane Landfill through enhanced engagement and collaboration.
  • Continue long-term planning for the disposal of Toronto’s garbage including work to identify and secure landfill capacity (e. review of options to expand, purchase, build, contract) and explore any additional long-term disposal options, such as energy from waste with and without mixed waste processing.
  • Continue to promote and enable waste reduction and reuse.
  • Continue to focus on performance-based metrics that reflect how much waste is generated, reduced, reused and disposed of, versus just weight-based metrics such as diversion rates that do not provide an overall picture of performance or take into account the evolving nature of packaging.

10-year financial plan

  • A 10-year financial strategy is being recommended to ensure Solid Waste Management Services has adequate funds to finance its long-term capital needs.
  • The 10-year plan recommends a rate increase of three per cent each year from 2022-2030.
  • The plan is based on the City transitioning its recycling program to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in 2023 as this will result in cost savings (estimated at $15 million) beginning in 2024. If EPR is not implemented or the City does not transition in 2023, a further percentage increase of approximately two per cent will be necessary each year starting in 2024 until the City transitions to full EPR.

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