Beach pitches in to meet recycling target

One dairy cow, 11 men, or half a car –by any measure, the average Canadian makes a lot of garbage in a year.

But people in Toronto did recycle or compost just over half their household waste in 2013, up from 42 per cent in 2007.

Still, while recycling is on the rise, it needs to improve quickly for city council to hit its goal of diverting 70 per cent of Toronto’s solid waste by 2016. Councillors had originally hoped to reach that level in 2010.

Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon says the city is making a strong push this year to boost recycling and composting in condos and apartments, which lag well behind that of single-family homes.

“That’s the only way we’re going to achieve our 70 per cent goal,” McMahon said.

Rob Orpin, a Beach resident and the City of Toronto’s director of collections and litter operations, said Toronto has a good record for single-family homes.

Blue bins, which handle paper, plastic and metal, are now used by 96 per cent of single-family homeowners, and the program is 25 years old. Ninety-two per cent of those same residents also use the newer green bins.

But until last year, just a fifth of the 4,500 condos and apartments with city-managed waste collection had green bins.

Orpin said his division added green bins to another 2,000 condos and apartments last year, and trained nearly 200 residents to be “3R Ambassadors” who can show their neighbours how it all works.

Mark Swift manages four apartment buildings on Queen Street East, and signed up to get the free green bins for his tenants last year.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “They’re always full too.”

James Dussett, a superintendent for another eight apartments at the east end of Queen, said they do not have green bins yet, but are looking forward to getting some.

Orpin said anyone who manages an apartment or condo can join the green bin program by calling 3-1-1. Staff will visit the property, provide shared curbside bins and smaller “kitchen catchers” for each unit in the building.

“We’re trying to stress that we want everyone in Toronto to reduce, re-use and recycle,” he said.

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