Toronto’s plan to charge garbage haulers for trash may not be working

Written by Laura Stone, CNN Bad ideas come in many shapes and sizes. In this case, they even come in the form of blinged-out trash trucks. One would hope that Toronto’s plan to charge…

Toronto's plan to charge garbage haulers for trash may not be working

Written by Laura Stone, CNN

Bad ideas come in many shapes and sizes. In this case, they even come in the form of blinged-out trash trucks.

One would hope that Toronto’s plan to charge private haulers $100 per month for each ton of collected trash and compost created more “green” opportunities for public transit.

Instead, Toronto’s program is causing municipalities across Canada’s largest city to walk away — possibly costing the city as much as $68 million annually and “hurting” its green initiatives, a city report concludes.

Alan Sakach, senior director of taxation at the city of Toronto, which initiated the program in 2011, said the city faced “the possibility that private haulers could deliver more cost-effective programs than the City of Toronto,” according to an article in the Toronto Star.

In response, the Toronto Transit Commission said it found no additional revenue from the program, the Star reported, and has started exploring alternative garbage delivery options.

How it began

Toronto is certainly no stranger to programs that have run into conflicts with local politicians, and the idea of charging private haulers for removal seemed like another potential obstacle for the city.

“With the City of Toronto’s Waste Management Strategy in full swing, it’s appropriate for us to review how the operating system is being used,” said Alexander Kunz, a spokesman for the city.

But, the city said, the program was not intended to raise revenue.

“The (City of Toronto) and Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) offer those that live in Toronto a cost-effective, comprehensive ‘green’ waste management program,” the Star reported.

How it works

Simply put, the trash collection fees charged to local residents were intended to cover the city’s costs in placing garbage and compost on public land in exchange for $5 per ton of pickups, according to the Star.

The city manager told the committee in 2014 that the program would bring in approximately $116 million over the first five years of operation, according to the Star.

Then, a couple of years ago, the city realized that public transit would not be made obsolete by private haulers, and Toronto’s waste was found to be largely organics and organic materials, creating the possibility of new revenue opportunities.

“The opportunity exists to incorporate those organic materials into public transit inventory, so that they’re reusable and not a liability,” Sakach told the Star.

Why is it not working?

A report conducted for the city by an outside consultant says the city should wait until a private company can be found to handle the city’s recyclables, eliminating the need for a monthly $100 rate.

“An effort was undertaken at the city’s request to introduce this system. To date, no alternative has been identified and, if private refuse companies are not sought for collection of refuse and compost material, TRCA will continue to earn the money it pays for this service,” the report stated.

CNN, Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, CTV News Toronto, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian , CBC News, CityTV News

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