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article imageThe Problem with Toronto's Green Bin Program

By KJ Mullins     Jul 4, 2009 in Environment
Toronto's population takes a lot of time separating their household waste into the proper containers every week. The green bins are to be used as compost. The Toronto Star went undercover to find out if the program was working.
The results may not please the public.
The processed compost that is being produced is so toxic that it will kill your plants if you use it. The high salt content present in the finished product is not safe to use.
The Star found that in the past two years thousands of tons of organics that are part of the green bin program were dumped in a gravel pit, landfills or stockpiled on city property. Some of the material that residents were told was safe for the green bins like plastic bags and diapers were sent to Michigan to the incinerator. That goes against a promise made by Mayor David Miller that Toronto would never burn trash.
The Star found that 1/5 of Toronto's organic material was burned.
while other cities tell their residents to use compostable bags Toronto does not require that. In Toronto a multi-million-dollar system is in place to separate organic waste from plastic bags. The plastics hasten the rotting of organic material which causes odour problems for processors. Large shreds of plastic also end up in the compost.
Toronto residents hand over as much as $15 million a year in taxes for the flawed program. Durham and Peel Regions have their own programs that work, partly because they refuse to include plastic bags or diapers. Neither product works well in compost programs.
Serious problems were found with the compost produced by two companies that the city uses to process its organic waste.
In the first case the lab found that the compost was left unfinished. The second company's finished product had such a high sodium content that it would kill plants if it were to be used.
No one wants to stop the program. If the program had stricter guidelines it would be better according to Susan Antler, executive director of the Composting Council of Canada. Those guidelines should include no plastic bags, no diapers, and no dog feces and kitty litter.
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