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Halton's waste reduction strategies continue to set pace
New waste master plan to be created for 2017-2022
June 17, 2015
Bob Mitchell  

A new, five-year waste reduction plan will be created for Halton next year, ensuring the Region remains a leader in the field in Canada, officials say.

“We’re on the leading-edge of diversion numbers,” Halton Public Works Commissioner Jim Harnum told Planning and Public Works committee members.

It takes about two years to develop a new waste master plan, which is expected to run from 2017 to 2022, staff said.

In 2014, the overall residential waste diversion rate increased from 58 to 60 per cent, according to a year-end report received and endorsed by Regional Council this week. The next objective is to reach 70 per cent and beyond.

“We have to keep getting better… based on the strategies we’ve done, we’re one of the leaders,” Halton Cair Gary Carr said. “But we need to do the right things for us to remain the leader in the future.”

Had Halton not decided to go ahead with its GreenCart program in 2006, the Region would be seeking a new landfill site today instead of exploring new ways to divert waste, staff officials said.

Without the GreenCart introduction, the existing landfill would have reached its capacity by 2028-30. Now, that’s been extended until at least 2042-46.

“In 2006, we were the last ones across the GTA to do it,” Carr said. “Six of the council members didn’t support it at the time, but a lot of them have since admitted they were wrong.

“It was a monumental decision.”

Plans for a new landfill site need to take place 10 to 15 years before needed and with new technologies, a new landfill, assuming a site could be found, would cost anywhere between $750 million to $1 billion, staff said.

“Waste management is a significant investment each year and it’s a service used by every taxpayer,” Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring said.

By using green carts and blue bins, Halton residents have reduced the amount of waste going to landfill from 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

The next step is for municipalities to pressure the provincial government to get source companies to make their packaging more diversion-friendly, Carr told committee members.

Many of western provinces, specifically B.C., have a zero waste policy but that includes some form of incineration, Harnum said.

Energy solutions will be among those examined before the next master plan is developed, Harnum said.

Blue Box tonnes decreased two per cent; GreenCart tonnes increased 1.5 per cent and multi-residential Blue Box diversion increased by almost one per cent, according to the report.

All told, 94 per cent of households used blue boxes in 2014.

The GreenCart program continued to be implemented to residential locations, including 574 multi-plex locations (buildings with 2-6 units) as well as 37 apartment buildings in 2014.

But Harnum indicated the Region is working with developers to ensure new apartments have the capability of handling green and blue waste diversion as well as trying to figure out how existing buildings can also facilitate these diversion practices.

Yard waste and brush collected and managed increased by 37 per cent in 2014, but while these numbers weren’t totally driven by the ice storm, Harnum said they did reflect it.

Halton experienced a significant and damaging ice storm on Dec. 23, 2014 that affected the tree landscape within the Region. To assist residents in managing

the debris, Halton provided increased yard waste and brush collection, provided

free drop-off of brush at the Halton Waste Management Site (until June 30, 2014), and along with the area municipalities, provided satellite drop-off locations.

As a result, significantly higher-than-normal yard waste and brush tonnages were managed in 2014 that positively affected the overall residential diversion rate, the report indicated.

“The storm wasn’t the driver, but it affected the numbers,” Harnum said.

Staff expects yard waste tonnages will be back to normal levels this year.