Posts Tagged ‘garbage’

Almost There – City Strike Tentative Deal With Strikers

Tentative agreements have been reached with striking inside and outside workers and the city Monday. While it has been a roller coaster ride at least both sides were not “forced” into a decision by an outside arbitrator that would have caused more whining. It took a long time but it will be nice to know this is all settled and everyone is back to work. (The details will not be disclosed until they are ratified by council so one can only speculate about the end result of hot issues like sick days).

Perhaps Torontonians can learn from this, much as we did during the big blackout. Will we produce less garbage and stop taking our parks for granted???!!!

The Garbage Blame Game

The stalemate has yet to lift and we are nearly 2 weeks into the garbage strike. Many Canada Day celebrations were cancelled. We were lucky after 1 million people enjoyed the Pride Parade that it had its own private clean up crew to help clean up. We are still on the hook for the garbage we create during the strike that’s for sure.

I find it amazing that there has been little talk of conservation or limiting of our garbage. People want to continue business as usual and expect different results despite the lack of garbage service. In this “economic environment” it shouldn’t be difficult to cut out on take out or drive thru restaurants. Waste less and you’ll have more money in your pocket and less garbage to throw out.

Toronto’s efforts to reduce garbage going to landfill by 70% are valiant. Many municipalities have bragged of diversion rates of 60% over the last 5 years so this is not an unattainable goal. Mayor Miller has been reluctant to implement incineration and has focused more on reduction and recycling in an effort to limit garbage going to Michigan.

In this aim to reduce landfill Toronto has implemented a Green Bin program less strict than several Municipalities hoping for higher compliance rates. Toronto allows green waste to be placed in plastic bags, “disposable” diapers, and pet waste like kitty litter. This makes it harder to sort and turn our green waste into compost though. Shortcuts revealed by a Toronto Star shows that our service providers are skimping on their implementation of Toronto’s plan with much of the green waste still ending up in landfill or incinerated. As noted in today’s follow up article, city councillors are right to call for an audit of the services Toronto is paying for. If the city is paying a company to safely and efficiently deal with our garbage and green waste it should be accountable for it. The Ministry regulates these service providers and should wield a heavier hand.

At the end of the day it’s our tax dollars and our garbage. Reducing the amount of taxes need to clean up the mess and reducing the pile of waste starts at home not in Ottawa, Queen’s Park, or Mayor Miller’s office.

CBC Toronto Does Half a Story on Green Bin Waste

Yesterday, CBC Toronto six o’clock news did a story on what happens to Toronto’s green bin waste. According to their report, the city collects 150 tonnes per day, 20 percent of which is not compostable or organic and contaminates the organic waste stream, impairing the ability of the city to sell the compost. The city says we’re doing three things wrong:

  1. The plebes double or triple bag their waste. Wonder why? It couldn’t be because it’s collected at half the rate it used to be and thus has time to start to rot and smell, now could it? As the solid waste manager noted at the beginning of the piece, organics stink. The city uses a pulper to separate the plastic bags from the waste; the more bags, the longer the pulper runs, the more electricity is required to run the machine.
  2. The mayonnaise effect: plebes throw out the whole jar of spoiled food, rather than scooping the food out (old mayo, for example) into the green bin and washing out the glass jar before tossing it into the recycling bin. I sympathize with the plebes; especially when you’re cleaning out the fridge, who wants to double the time you already don’t have to do this chore by separating each and every container into its component parts. The pulper and rest of the machinery doesn’t completely separate the glass from the food, and so the compost ends up with sharp shards in it.
  3. Us plebes don’t have a clue what to put in each bin. We spend time reading the calendars, checking out what others have put in their boxes, asking others even the city, yet still we get it wrong, and the city blames us. We’re not educating ourselves well enough, and we have to do better, they claim. The only ones who will heed their accusation and feel guilty will be those who are already trying to educate themselves; the passive protesters couldn’t care less. They’re too overworked to spend time listening to a city that can’t deal with a garbage issue so throws responsibility for it onto the people.

The CBC report answered the question how do the organics get separated from the plastic, but it didn’t challenge the city at all. It didn’t ask why it’s not using better equipment, equipment other municipalities have tried out or are using that does a good job of separating all the various waste streams from each other and doesn’t require ordinary people to pre-sort their garbage. It didn’t ask why it’s relying on overworked, underpaid, don’t-speak-English citizenry to do its job and pay for the privilege. Toronto doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there’s a large segment of the population who don’t buy into the garbage-sorting-makes-us-better-citizens BS and never will and that though Toronto prides itself on being multicultural, many of those with poor English skills use that to avoid spending so much time on trying to figure out the convoluted garbage rules. They are in effect being passive protestors.

CBC also didn’t ask how much of the green bin waste is actually recycled into compost and how much ends up in the landfill. It mentioned creating methane from green waste, but CBC didn’t ask if it’s being done now and what’s taking so long; why old landfills’ methane are being vented into the air and not being used for energy creation; and why this form of gas creation is OK but not a high-tech incinerator or plasma arc plant.

In other words, as usual we got a regurgitated press release, just with pretty (or stinky if you will) pictures, telling us what we’re doing wrong instead of challenging the city on why it’s doing a half-assed job and pissing off the neighbours and its own citizens in the process.

Garbage Bin Information Events

If you want to learn more about the new garbage bins, you’re too late if you live near Castlegrove Blvd., Summerhill Ave., Wellesley Street East, but for the rest:

  • East York Community Centre at 1081 Pape Ave., you have less than an hour to get there by 8:00 pm today
  • Rosedale Park — Mayfair Event at Scholfield Ave., from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sat. May 10
  • ¬†Parkwoods Village Mall at 1277 York Mills Road, from noon to 4:00 pm on Sat. May 10.

For full list, visit target70.

Round Two: Garbage Bins

Holy cow, did you get a gander at the new garbage bins? No, not the monstrous blue, I mean round two of bindom.

Garbage Bin Ad

I think she must be Glenn De Baeremaeker’s sister. Questions: Will Cabbagetown residents get more ticked off and ensure they get to continue to use bags for their garbage too? Am I going to have to make another call to get rid of this bin too?

If you couldn’t get worked up over round one, how about the fact that this time, you get to pay for it? These bins aren’t the ones they presented to the media last summer — those ones were tame compared to these behemoths! talk about massaging the message — but for the privilege of polluting the visual appeal of your property, even if you don’t use your bin some weeks, the bigger the bin, the greater the hit on your wallet. (BTW the reason why the smallest bin is much bigger than they advertised last summer is because they have to make it bigger for automated collection, which is impossible outside of the burb areas of Toronto but who cares about that small detail, and so they put in a false bottom. The actual bin capacity is half of what you see. You’ll get a $10 annual credit for using that one. Be still my beating heart.)

Of course, if we’d gone to bag tags and continued to be allowed to put out garbage your way (whether bags or bins) you’d have to pay only when you put out your garbage, not every two weeks regardless of how much, if any, garbage you put out. The bag tags also are an easy and visible way to show how much you can save if you put out less garbage; the bin way it’s far more of a hassle to reduce your garbage, that is, you figure out you could go down a size, but then you’d have to know you could do that every 2 weeks, for sure, and maybe you’re not sure plus you have to call City Hall, and who enjoys doing that? So in the end, why bother? So no, the bin way is a less-satisfactory method of reducing waste production plus it penalizes large families and cultures that live in extended-family units. But then Toronto really wants more taxes out of you, and bins are the way to do it. Have a good day!

Mr Garbage: Bins Are More Esthetically Pleasing Than Sunny Porches, Flowers, and Lawns

CFTO evening news (oops early senior’s moment CTV Toronto News) did a story on the unsightly blue box tonight. Tom Hayes reported that since the blue bin program started 20 years ago, they’ve been increasing the amount of stuff that goes into the bin and so the bin had to grow. Um no. Here’s a thought: the frequency of pickup had to increase NOT decrease. The illogic of trying to get people to recycle more while decreasing frequency of pickup boggles my mind. But let’s continue.

As the person-on-the-street mentioned, she doesn’t even have to walk out her front door, she just has to look out her window, and there they are: big butt-ugly bins hogging the sidewalks and the visual line of sight. These bins are so big, they do not fit! As Hayes points out, they are changing the esthetics of the entire city. So much for aspiring to be once again Toronto the beautiful or the clean.

“I thought we cared what the city looks likes,” said the person on the street. Apparently not.

The fact that Councillors and city staff members actually thought that these bins would fit and not pose a safety hazard (more later) shows how utterly out of touch they are with the realities of city living when you can’t afford hired help and to rent storage areas. Or in Glenn De Baeremaeker’s case, be in love with garbage. After all, only someone who loves the sight and smells of garbage would actually come out with this stupid line:

“When we go to the garbage bin system, we’ll have a nice row lined up like soldiers of garbage bins, all basically the same shape size colour and function. It’ll be very efficient. And I think it’ll look actually better esthetically on most streets.”

And if you don’t like it, tough. “Get used to it,” he, Mr. Garbage, adds.

If you don’t believe me, that I quoted him exactly, check out the list of videos in the blue band on the mid-right side of the screen: Blue boxes an eyesore for some residents.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m fighting this Councillor’s arrogance. I looked out my window recently and saw the first line of soldiers hitting the sidewalks in my neighbourhood and wondered where I’d walk. You see, the bins take up half the sidewalk at least — and these are just the FIRST rollout, there is another set coming — which means I’m relegated to the edge of the sidewalk, not the safest place to be. In the winter between snow banks and bins, there would be nowhere to walk except the road…where the cars are.

But wait, it gets better. After the garbage men came through, flinging bins hither and thither, there was nowhere to walk. I could walk two steps, pick up bins, walk three steps, move bins, walk two steps, pick up bins, or I could walk on the road, keeping ears out for cars and get home in a timely manner. What about the poor mobility challenged? Finally the snow is gone, they can go out again, hurray. Oh but wait, it’s garbage day. Now the sidewalks are for bins, not humans, certainly not humans with canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters or buggies.

Get used to it, says Mr. Garbage. Get used to only being able to use our sidewalks 6 days out of 7; get used to having to use the roads as sidewalks in the winter time every garbage day; get used to a garbage esthetic because that is what Toronto is becoming unless you e-mail your Councillor and the Target70 team and tell them this is unacceptable. You won’t be alone. I understand the Target70 team can’t keep up with the irate calls from Torontonians to get rid of the butt-ugly bins and return to a saner method of pickup. Perhaps we should start flooding Mr. Garbage’s e-mail box too. After all, he should be at least half as harassed as we are with this new insane pickup method.

Cabbagetown Residents May Get Their Garbage Bags Back

Global News tonight interviewed a Cabbagetown resident so peeved by the Big Ugly Blue Bin that she sent it back to the city. She tried to find a place for it, but there was nowhere to be found — surprise, surprise — except to dominate her pretty garden. Toronto Councillor Pam McConnell speculated that for these special residents who live in historical areas they might allow a return to using bags. Why? So the Big Ugly Blue Bins won’t uglify their historical neighbourhoods, won’t be a blight against their lovely gardens, wrought iron fences, and restored frontages. Excuse me, but why is it OK to uglify MY neighbourhood, just because it’s not an historical district? Why instead of flowers and low stone walls and the occasional wrought iron fence, do I need to see ugly-butt bins, bins, bins, bins, bins?! Yes, I can still see flowers, but the bins, even the smallest, are so enormous — and which will soon be joined by their twin ugly-butt garbage bins — that they dominate the sight lines.

Turns out too that healthy, hearty folk are also finding it difficult to cart that sucker around; for them it’s when full. And so they’re just leaving them in place. I guess it’s easier to walk out to the bin sitting at the edge of the property to dump in the trash than to haul it up and down stairs. Who knew? Only someone with common sense, something definitely in short supply at City Hall, so short that Mayor Miller has twinned us with Beijing, the idea being that we will learn how to build subways and run cities from them (and they from us, but that’s a bit of joke in the current era). He sure has a great sense of timing.

The Monstrous Blue Coming to You

Bob Hepburn in The Toronto Star wrote an excellent column on the ginormous, so-called “medium-sized” uglification campaign called the new Toronto blue bin. Excellent column. It reflected exactly my feelings on the matter. I have zero idea where I’m going to put my new, improved blue bin. It doesn’t fit anywhere except as a front-lawn statue to Toronto politicians’ projected garbage guilt.

Apparently, he’s received dozens and dozens of responses to his column and will be writing more. Others have written earlier about these impending (now here in much of the city) bins, but probably because folks couldn’t see them, they vented, then shrugged. But now that they’re here, folks are real upset. They can see what a boondoggle these bins are, how they do not address the garbage problem, and how they contribute to the deteriorating beauty of our city. There is a consensus here, and we can grab the momentum to bring sanity back to Toronto’s garbage policy, but only if we protest loudly and longly. No shrugging and willingly being run over by City Hall!

For many, the problem is where to put it, but for the most vulnerable in society, it’s how to use it. Those with upper body weakness won’t be able to open or close it; those with upper or lower body issues won’t be able to maneuvre it. Those with any kind of weakness or fatigue will find it particularly hard to get it up and down steps, and many, many homes in Toronto have steps, even homes in which people who require canes or wheelchairs live. And this is just bin #1. Ginormous bin #2 for garbage has yet to arrive. And what’s the betting ginormous bin #3 to replace the current green bin will soon follow? One Councillor is working on a way to use this huge medium-sized bin for both recyclables and garbage so that homeowners won’t have to store two, just one; however, if the bin don’t fit and is not usable by the most vulnerable in our society, even one is one too many.

The whole thing is bogus anyway. All garbage, whether straight trash, recyclables, or compostables, is a waste byproduct of our consumption. The more we consume, the more energy we use during manufacturing and sales, and the more garbage is produced, even if it is recyclable. Even worse, manufacturers are using much more packaging than they used to. Some have called for requiring retailers to remove the packaging at the cashier’s desk since so much of it is impossible to get into. I know I’ve ended up throwing out new products as I simply could not open them up. I have no idea how people with (bad) arthritis manage to break open some of these packages, especially those who live alone or with an infirm partner and can’t easily get help from a strong individual. Furthermore, not all plastic is recyclable, yet I bet most people have a hard time figuring out which is which — which can go in the blue box and which can go in the garbage. The whole sorting thing, which requires those calendars, challenges persons with developmental or mental difficulties especially, trying to understand them, never mind able-minded people who simply have a job and family to run.

And in the end, why do we as individuals need to be virtuous about sorting garbage from recycling? It’s not like we choose our products based on whether they’re recyclable or not. I bet only the fanatics and eco-nuts do that. The rest of us don’t. So why is it virtuous for us as individuals to recycle? To assuage our guilt for not making the “right” choice at the time of purchase?

Worse, all this work results only in homeowners’ garbage being sorted, no-one else’s. I’ve written extensively about garbage before, but perhaps the reality of these blue monstrosities will get Torontonians up in arms and moving into action.

If the city really wanted to tackle the garbage crisis, really wanted to be green, really wanted to clean up this city it would do three things:

  1. Build a facility that sorts garbage into recyclable, reusable, compostable, and trash. Then go back to picking up all garbage twice a week. The entire city would thus have their garbage sorted. This would also particularly help large families who per person may not produce much garbage but in aggregate do; it would help the infirm and disabled who can’t carry much weight and thus with more frequent pick-ups would have a manageable amount of garbage to put out. It would also get rid of that ridiculous calendar with those incomprehensible dos and don’ts. What a waste of paper that is!
  2. Build a clean, modern incinerator, like the ones in Sweden, to create electricity from trash. This would replace the nonrenewable fossil fuel power plant the idiotic Ontario government foisted upon us and allow Toronto to (a) use a renewable resource (trash) to (b) create electricity so that (c) in an event of a natural disaster, Toronto would have a local source of electricity generation that does not reduce our fossil fuels. This would also bring harmony back to our relationships with our neighbours by eradicating the need for landfill and trucks belching smoke down the highway.
  3. Band together with other municipalities to force manufacturers to reduce their packaging.
  4. Require retailers to remove said packaging at the store — businesses are far more likely to act than apathetic Torontonians in forcing manufacturers to get real about their ridiculous packaging.
  5. Recognize that garbage is garbage. One kind is not any more virtuous than another. It’s all waste from consumption. Thus allow people to use bags. In conjunction with item #1, that would mean our sidewalks would be free of clutter so that pedestrians aren’t forced to use the road even after the garbage is picked up, and bags can be tagged. Bag tags have proven effective in other cities in reducing waste and injuries among the sanitation workers. I’m not a big fan but somehow we need to reduce our overall waste production and foisting a humoungous bin on people ain’t going to do it.

Right now we need to protest this blue bin. Make your Councillor so uncomfortable, like the Riverdale residents Hepburn writes about in his column did when they protested, that they will reverse this stupid bin idea and go back to the drawing board. If you don’t know who your Councillor is, click here. And in the meantime refuse to use the new bin. Torontonians used to know how to do protests. Maybe we’ll learn all over again.

Many Little Fires on the TTC

Jack Lakey of the Toronto Star continues his week’s worth of columns on the shabby TTC. Today he went to pigeons’ paradise aka Kipling and Islington stations, called a war zone by one reader and, like a falling-down house, sported numerous buckets to catch the drips from the roof. The janitors are nothing if not ingenious when trying to do the work of twice their number:

“To deal with the water leaking above a staircase, a large sign was placed in a janitor’s garbage cart and ingeniously angled to funnel the water into the cart.”

IMHO the TTC ought to have one janitor per station, and I suspect that they used to because back in the shining TTC days, I remember seeing janitors far more often than now. And if there have always been only one for roughly every two stations, then they used to be far more efficient than today. Of course, it does help to have garbage cans, oh sorry, litter receptacles in the stations at platform level. Torontonians have a real aversion to carrying garbage for more than a centimeter. I saw a screwed-up napkin and empty pop bottle on a subway seat the other day. Ewwww. Is it really that difficult to carry such light items through a door, along the platform, up the steps, and to the “receptacle”? Obviously.

But who knew that the real problem of removing the garbage cans from subway platforms is fires? The cans were removed due to terrorist threat post 9/11 and because all subway systems were doing it.

But “the litter problem on platforms and the subway tracks has the TTC rethinking that policy. A transit employee told us several small fires are ignited each week when trash comes into contact with the electrified third rail.”

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