November 3, 2021

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 waste as possible away from landfill. Single-family residents with the largest garbage bins pay the most and those with the smallest pay the least. Similarly, 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. Solid Waste Management Services fees 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 2022 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 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also supports the continued implementation of the Long Term Waste Management Strategy, Toronto’s moves towards a circular economy 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 867,500 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 $749 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; 1.9 million residential bins and containers; five yards; and approximately 690 vehicles and pieces of equipment.
  • Supports city beautification and cleanliness by collecting litter and waste from approximately 10,600 park bins and 10,300 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 2022 Solid Waste Management Services budget consists of:

  • an Operating Budget of $377.8 million plus a capital reserve contribution of $13.1 million
  • a Capital Budget of $69.7 million (comprised of $63.7 million in planned 2022 funding and $6.0 million in funding carried forward from 2021)
  • a recommended 10-year Capital Plan of $849.1 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. Solid Waste Management Services has no state-of-good repair backlog and all projects in its ten year capital plan are fully funded.

Key priorities for 2022

  • Continued 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).
  • Work to advance the development of renewable natural gas infrastructure at the Disco Road Organics Processing Facility to start producing renewable natural gas in 2023.
  • Planning and design work to accelerate a third organics processing facility (begin building in 2025 versus 2036 with expected completion in 2028).
  • 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.
  • Continued engagement with First Nations communities related to the City’s exploration and study of landfill gas utilization opportunities at Green Lane Landfill and the 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.
  • Continued 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).
  • Continued efforts to reduce contamination in and increase diversion of waste from street and park litter bins.
  • 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 rate increase of three per cent in 2022 (as forecasted in the 10-year financial plan put forth in 2021).
  • Rate increases are recommended to take effect on January 1, 2022.
  • To ensure that Solid Waste Management Services can continue to maintain and enhance service levels, cover operational costs and fund planned capital projects, a rate increase of three per cent is also planned for 2023 and each year after until 2031.

Fee changes

  • It is recommended that the price of items such as garbage bag tags, and commercial organics, recycling and garbage carts also increase by three per cent in 2022.

 Program adjustments based on COVID-19 impacts, recovery and learnings

  • In light of the success of the Community Environment Day events at Drop-Off Depots, Solid Waste Management Services is recommending that in 2022 up to 51 in-community events take place across the city as well as seven events at Drop-Off Depots for a potential of 58 events.
  • Additional resources were put in place in 2021 to manage increased waste and litter in parks. For 2022, Solid Waste Management Services is recommending that these resources be maintained.
  • In 2021, the Solid Waste Management Services’ budget for promotion, education and outreach was reduced in light of the City’s focus on communications and engagement related to COVID-19. For 2022, Solid Waste Management Services is recommending that this budget be increased back to pre-pandemic levels.

 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 2025 versus 2036 with expected completion in 2028)
    • renewable energy infrastructure at additional City waste management facilities such as the Disco Organics Processing Facility, Green Lane landfill and Keele Valley Landfill 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.
  • Continue to promote and enable waste reduction and reuse.
  • 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 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 has been developed to ensure Solid Waste Management Services has adequate funds to finance its long-term capital needs.
  • The plan is based on the City transitioning its recycling program to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in July of 2023, as outlined in the regulation, as this will result in cost savings estimated at $15 million annually beginning in 2024.

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