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December 27, 2002
City intensifies waste diversion efforts as Keele Valley Landfill closes
Works & Emergency Services - The City of Toronto is aggressively
implementing its Waste Diversion Task Force 2010 action plans in response to
the closure of the City-owned Keele Valley Landfill Site on December 31, 2002.
By the time Keele Valley, located in York Region, closes, it will have received
approximately 28-million tonnes of waste. The 99-hectare landfill, which the
City began operating in 1983, is expected to reach its volumetric capacity by
closure time.

Once Keele Valley closes, all the City's garbage will be sent to a private
landfill (Carlton Farms Landfill) in Michigan. Toronto's disposal costs for
garbage will increase by more than 300 per cent. This represents one of the
three 'extraordinary pressures' that resulted in the staff-proposed 2003 budget
containing a projected tax increase.

Councillor Brad Duguid, Chair of the City's Works Committee, outlines, "The
closure of Keele Valley is one of the largest single budget pressures in the
history of the City of Toronto. Closing Keele Valley will cost the City $41.8
million yearly. We're faced with higher disposal costs in Michigan and lost
revenue at Keele Valley and the closure of the City's low-cost central
composting site. The City must focus on waste diversion and home-grown
solutions for our waste processing. We urgently need the full co-operation of
all Toronto residents and businesses. Please fully participate in City programs
and services established to reduce waste."

For the last several years, Toronto has sent a portion of its waste to Michigan
for disposal in order to extend the life of Keele Valley. Approximately 60-70
highway transport trucks, each carrying 34 tonnes of waste, have been on the
road daily delivering the City's waste across the Michigan border. With the
closure of Keele Valley, starting January 1, 2003, approximately 130 highway
transport trucks will cross the border daily. While Toronto has a contract with
a Michigan-based private landfill for a minimum of five years, the City's
disposal plans are vulnerable to Canada / U.S. border security issues and
potential new state / federal legislation and surcharges.

"We are committed to achieving the Toronto Council-directed waste-diversion
goals of 30 per cent by 2003, 60 per cent by 2006 and 100 per cent diversion
from landfill by 2010. We expect to realize our 2003 target and are stepping up
our waste-diversion efforts with programs such as the Green Bin Program to meet
the 60 per cent goal," said Geoff Rathbone, Director of Policy and Planning,
Solid Waste Management Services. Current diversion programs and services
  • the Green Bin Program, which diverts organic materials fromlandfill and turns them into compost. Phase one began in Etobicoke in September 2002 and phase two will begin June 24, 2003 in Scarborough. By the time it has rolled out city-wide at the end of 2005, the Green Bin program is expected to drive diversion rates up to 42 per cent. Organics make up about 30 per cent of household garbage;
  • new waste diversion collection programs for government agencies and small businesses (Yellow Bag Program - initiated in 2002) diverts approximately 200 tonnes of organic material weekly, which translates into 320 fewer trucks a year heading to Michigan;
  • implementing recycling programs in 100 per cent of multi-family buildings;
  • banning grass clippings collection;
  • change-over from clear plastic yard waste bags to compostable kraft paper yard waste bags or reusable rigid open-top containers to eliminate contamination of plastic material in finished compost; and
  • establishing a mandatory recycling by-law.

Future plans to target more materials for curbside programs
  • testing systems for collecting organics from apartment buildings and condos; and
  • expansion of a scrap metal collection pilot, held last June, involving 4,000 households in Toronto that has the potential to divert more than 5,000 tonnes of scrap metal from landfill.
efforts will be needed to achieve 60 per cent diversion by 2006 and the
following services or programs are being considered:
  • residential pay-as-you-throw system to encourage waste diversion;
  • reuse centres; and
  • a 'take-it-back' service in co-operation with retailers and manufacturers.[
In order to process the approximately 40 per cent residual
or "leftover" waste that cannot be handled through expanded recycling,
composting and diversion programs, the City is investigating various new and
emerging technologies. In January 2003, the Citizen and Expert Advisory Group
will be in place to assist in this process.

City of Toronto Solid Waste Management Services Fast Facts:
  • Serves a customer base of one million units (490,000 single-family households, 440,000 multi-family households, 20,000 small commercial businesses, and the City¡¦s agencies, boards, commissions and departments (ABC&Ds) as well as private haulers at landfill and transfer stations.
  • Toronto manages 2,002,000 tonnes of waste annually for 2001
City of Toronto infrastructure:
  • 290 City operated collection vehicles
Transfer and
  • seven transfer stations
  • five recycling centres
  • three recycling depots
  • Dufferin Organics Processing Facility (new anaerobic digestion plant)
  • Leaf and yard waste composting site (on site at Keele Valley, so will close December 2002)
  • Keele Valley Landfill (closing December 2002)
  • Michigan disposal contracts
  • The City¡¦s proposed budget is absorbing the pressures anticipated within 2003 with the exception of the closure of Keele Valley Landfill, TTC and salary increases above cost of living allowance.
  • Financial pressure for the City due to the Keele Valley closure will be $41.8 million yearly, which includes $13.4 million due to higher disposal costs in Michigan; $25.8 million in lost revenue; and $2.6 related to the closure and redirection of the leaf and yard waste composting site. The City of Toronto began operating Keele Valley Landfill Site on November 28, 1983.
  • Over the lifespan of the landfill, from 1983 to 2002, it will have received approximately 28 million tonnes of waste.
  • Capacity is not measured by tonnage but by volumetric capacity, which will be achieved by closure.
  • The entire site comprises 929 acres (includes landfill site, primary and secondary buffer lands and Avondale Composting Site). The landfill itself is 99 hectares (250 acres) in size.
  • Site activities beyond closure include final restoration and rehabilitation (landscaping, storm-water control via ditches and ponds), ongoing monitoring of gas, air and water in perpetuity, site clean-up and dismantling of equipment and facilities no longer required.
  • The Ministry of the Environment will continue to review and comment when required on the contractors¡¦ reports to ensure the long-term care meets environmental and regulatory standards. The Avondale Composting Site, located at Keele Valley, will continue to process existing materials into compost throughout 2003. Some compost will be used as final cover for the landfill.
  • In addition to compost, the final landfill cover will comprise earth from the borrow pits at Avondale and clean fill from development projects. The City will continue to accept clean fill at a charge of $30 per load (projected revenue of $250,000 during 2003). A minimum one-metre layer of clay-like final cover is followed by a 30 cm (one foot) layer of topsoil, topped off with hydroseed (combination of seed, mulch and fertilizer) to support vegetation. As of mid-December, 74 hectares of the total 99 have received final cover.
  • The City of Vaughan, which according to the original agreement will lease the landfill property from the City of Toronto for $1.00 a year once it closes, proposes turning the former landfill into passive recreational park land (i.e. recreational trails and lookouts) for leisure purposes. York Major Holdings, a private company, is constructing an 18-hole golf course on the southeastern perimeter, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2004.
  • Currently, Keele Valley Landfill and the Avondale Composting Site employ 85 staff. Upon landfill site closure, approximately 30 staff will be redeployed, leaving 55 staff on site during 2003 to manage site closure commitments.
  • The Eastern Power Plant, a private facility on site, which has a 20-year contract with the City of Toronto (established in 1995), will continue to utilize landfill gas to generate electricity (enough to power some 20,000 homes).
  • In October of 1999, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), under its 1999 Excellence in Solid Waste Management Awards Program, recognized Keele Valley with a Gold award for its significant accomplishments in landfill gas control. SWANA honoured the City of Toronto¡¦s commitment to environmentally and economically sound solid waste management, citing excellence in design, equipment and operational innovation, efficiency and effectiveness, health and safety programs, control of air emissions, regulatory compliance, employee training, and public/community education. At the 1997 Kyoto Conference on greenhouse gases, Toronto was cited as a world leader in greenhouse gas reductions due to its successful methane gas recovery from landfill facilities. Additionally, in 1988, the SWANA predecessor association (the GRCDA), in its Landfill Excellence Program, recognized the operation and maintenance of the Keele Valley Landfill with a Meritorious Achievement Award.[/ul>

    Media Contact
    Councillor Brad Duguid,
    Chair, Works Committee,

    Geoff Rathbone,
    Director, Policy and Planning, Solid Waste Management Services,



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