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Toronto's Trash to Call Michigan HomeToronto's Trash to Call Michigan Home

December 1, 2000

5 Min Read
Toronto's Trash to Call Michigan Home

Brook Raflo

With the closure of its Keele Valley landfill looming on the horizon, the city of Toronto has spent more than a decade searching for a home for the 1.5 million annual tonnes of garbage it produces. Finally, the search is over. In the wake of a failed deal with Rail Cycle North, the city awarded municipal and private sector disposal contracts on October 30 to Republic Services, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Until October 13, Rail Cycle North, a North Bay, Ontario-based consortium of waste management and transport companies, was set to dispose of Toronto's municipal waste after Keele Valley closes. But when Rail Cycle introduced a clause passing unforeseeable costs to the city, "our council found that would be too much liability for the city to take on," says Lawson Oates, manager of strategic planning for Toronto's solid waste management services.

Like New York City, Toronto has looked outside its borders for disposal capacity, and Oates says he and his team have watched New York's predicament closely. To avoid a similar predicament, Toronto has devised a three-part plan, which includes signing new disposal contracts, extending an existing disposal contract and implementing an ambitious diversion program, Oates says.

During each of the first two years of Republic's five-year contract with the city, Toronto-based Wilson Logistics will transport at least 300,000 tonnes of Toronto's garbage from city-owned transfer stations to Republic's Carleton Farms landfill in Wayne County, Mich. This will allow Toronto's Keele Valley landfill, which currently takes in nearly 1.35 million annual tonnes of the city's waste, to remain open until the end of 2002.

"By initiating the Republic contract in 2001, we will get continued waste settlement and decomposition of organics [at Keele Valley], which will allow us to create some additional capacity ... saving the city money," Oates says. Tipping fees at city-owned Keele Valley, he explains, are significantly lower than those at Carleton Farms.

Toronto also will seek to extend its five-year contract with Miami-based Onyx North America, the company that currently disposes of 450,000 tonnes of Toronto's waste per year at its Arbor Hills landfill in Northville, Mich. Because of a cap on Arbor Hills' foreign waste intake, however, the landfill cannot accept more than 500,000 tonnes of Toronto's waste annually, Oates says.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Toronto's solid waste plan is its goal to divert 80 percent of the city's refuse from the waste stream by 2006.

The city's ambitious diversion plan includes an expanded curbside recycling program, construction of an anaerobic digestion facility designed to generate heat for the city's downtown core, a composting facility to provide landfill cover and soil remediation products, community outreach, funding for the research and implementation of emerging technologies, and new laws requiring apartment complexes to recycle. "There's a potential for 100 percent diversion by 2010," Oates says.

By 2003, Toronto's waste program will look very different than it does today, Oates continues. The city will divert an additional 5 percent of its refuse from the waste stream by the end of that year, bringing the total diversion rate to 30 percent or more, he says. Additionally, Keele Valley will be closed, and at least 100,000 tonnes per year of the city's waste will go to Carleton Farms landfill.

Republic's Area President Matt Neely says he expects Carleton Farms to receive much more than 100,000 tonnes.

"The projections Toronto has given us are about 500,000 tonnes of waste per year [after 2003]," Neely says.

Carleton Farms is a seven-year-old, 60-million-cubic-yard landfill, with 60 years of life remaining, Neely says. And, the landfill's host Wayne County is considering Republic's proposal to add an additional 40 million cubic yards to Carleton Farms' capacity, he notes.

Unlike Onyx's Arbor Hills landfill, Carleton Farms is not subject to a cap on foreign waste. In fact, Wayne county residents support the plan to import large quantities of Toronto's waste, according to Neely.

This is because when Republic acquired Carleton Farms from Houston-based Waste Management Inc. in February 1999, as part of a required divestiture, Waste Management diverted most of Carleton Farms' trash to a nearby Waste Management-owned landfill, Neely says. Consequently, Wayne county's Sumpter township, which had been receiving a host benefit for trash entering Carleton Farms, lost a significant amount of revenue, he explains.

"They had to lay off policemen and stop providing municipal services," he says. "So the township has been very supportive [of the Toronto deal]."

Seacoast Inkjet Recycle Inc., Hampton, N.H., will match cartridge recyclers' donations dollar for dollar, and contribute the money to American Forests' Global ReLeaf program, which plants trees in areas devastated by this summer's fires.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Inc., Washington, D.C., has named RecycleGuard the official insurance program for its members.

Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC), Detroit, has signed a merger agreement with a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, Auburn Hills, Mich.

Montgomery Watson, Pasadena, Calif., has announced an expansion with a new joint venture called MW-BODA Environmental Engineering Co. Ltd., Beijing, China.

Synthetic Industries, Chattanooga, Tenn., has changed the name of its Geosynthetics Products Division to SI Geosolutions.

The National Association for PET Container Resources endorses "all plastic bottle collection."

On page 54 of its October 2000 issue, Waste Age indicated the name change of PolyJohn Enterprises Corp.'s finance arm incorrectly. PolyJohn Financial L.L.C., Whiting, Ind., has changed its name to PolyJohn Finance Inc. We regret the error.

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