In 2016, a total of 385,622 tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill through such programs as the Blue Bin recycling, Green Bin organics, yard waste and Christmas trees, backyard composting, Community Environment Days, household hazardous waste, grass cycling, large appliance/scrap metal and electronic waste pick-up.
The combined residential diversion rate of 52% represents the diverted tonnes achieved by both single family homes and multi- residential buildings (categorized as having 9 or more units). Residents living in single family homes had a diversion rate of 65%. Multi- residential building residents improved their diversion, achieving a rate of 28% (compared to 27% in 2015).
Since the implementation of the Green Bin Organics Program to City-serviced multi-residential buildings, organic tonnes have slowly increased and is partially responsible for the increase in multi-residential diversion. The roll out of the new automated Green Bins for single family customers is complete for approximately half of the city and will be completed city-wide by the end of the year. The provision of additional capacity may also have had a positive impact on capturing more Green Bin organic materials.
Moving towards Zero Waste future and a Circular Economy
Starting in 2013, the City embarked on a multi-year project to develop the Long Term Waste Management Strategy (Waste Strategy) that would guide the City's waste management system for the next 30 to 50 years. Through extensive consultation and engagement activities, thousands of participants from across the City provided feedback to form a Waste Strategy that received City Council approval in July 2016. The Waste Strategy includes recommendations that encourages the prevention of waste, maximizing its value before disposal. It also reaffirms the City's commitment to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and includes a 70% diversion target by 2026 and introduces an aspirational goal to work towards a zero waste future and a circular economy.
The Waste Strategy also recommends new metrics that better reflect waste system successes, as the City continues to see a general decline in garbage and recycling tonnes, which impacts the overall calculation of the diversion rate. This weight-based performance measure does not accurately capture the success of decreasing garbage tonnes or account for the changing nature of packaging, which has become lighter in recent years. A weight-based performance measure no longer accurately reflects the success of today's integrated waste management system.
Year over year, the City manages and sends less waste to landfill. Since 2014, the amount of garbage generated per household/unit has declined from 738 kg to 684 kg in 2016. The amount of diverted materials (Blue Bin recycling and Green Bin organic materials) has increased from 693 kg in 2014 to 701 kg in 2016. This could be in part due to trending towards lighter and smaller packaging, fluctuations in the number of households/units serviced, and overall reduced consumption of products and generation of waste.
To measure the performance of the integrated waste management system, the City will start to report on new performance metrics, including reduction in the amount of waste generated per household, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, measuring reuse and overall reduction of waste disposed to landfill. Collectively, these new performance measures will help the City see their successes in moving closer towards an aspirational zero waste goal.