Green with Envy: Toronto’s Green Bin Program

Green BinMayor Gregor Robertson campaigned on a pledge to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world. But if he wants to make progress towards this lofty goal, he may want to begin by expanding Vancouver's recycling program. In particular, he should look at Toronto's Green Bin program as a model we should recycle for ourselves.

The Green Bin Program is a city-wide green waste recycling program that collects a wide range of household organics – fruit and vegetables scraps, meat, shellfish, fish products, dairy products, egg shells, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, soiled paper towels, tissues, soiled paper food packaging, fast food paper packaging, ice cream boxes, muffin paper, diapers, sanitary products, animal waste, kitty litter etc). Residents place their green waste in a Green Bin for separate collection along with their garbage and regular recycling.

The Green Bin Program started in Etobicoke in September 2002, with Scarborough, Toronto, East York, North York, and York all joining over the next three years. By October of 2005, the Green Bin program was collecting organic waste from approximately 510,000 single-family households. Pilots are underway in 30 multi-unit buildings to test the feasibility of collecting organics from apartment buildings.

With the help of an aggressive public education campaign, the Green Bin program has become a very popular and well-used service. As a result, The City of Toronto has approved two new organic waste processing facilities, each capable of processing 55,000 tonnes of organic material per year.

These new facilities will help Toronto meet its diversion goal of 70 per cent waste diversion from landfill by 2010. Not only does the Green Bin program divert waste from landfill, it produces biogas that is burned to generate electricity and rich compost that is given free of charge to Toronto residents.

If Mayor Gregor Robertson is serious about making Vancouver a greener city, he will help the Green Bin program migrate westward. Until then, Vancouver will remain green with envy at Toronto's recycling program.

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