Monday, January 17, 2011

Toronto's Electric Trash

Stabenow and Levin are running around today celebrating the end of some (not all - Albin just said it will cut it down by 40%) of the Canadian trash entering our state...

Michigan senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin said today that cities and towns around Toronto have stopped sending their residential trash to Michigan, as they agreed to do in the fall of 2006.

The two senators struck a deal then with Ontario officials to end those garbage shipments. Most of that trash went to the Carleton Farms landfill in Wayne County, which stopped taking Canadian residential waste on Dec. 31.

What will Toronto and surrounding cities do with their waste now? Something we need to start doing with our own landfills wherever we can.

Effective January 1, 2011, all of Toronto's waste requiring landfill disposal will go exclusively to the City-owned Green Lane Landfill.

The Green Lane Landfill has been in operation since 1978. In April 2007, the City purchased the site located in Southwold Township in the County of Elgin, southwest of London, about 200 kilometres from downtown Toronto.

Over the years, the Green Lane Landfill site has evolved from a small waste disposal operation to a modern, state-of-the-art facility with onsite treatment of leachate and a methane gas collection and flaring system. Today it is an environmentally sound solid waste disposal facility that meets or exceeds all provincial legislative and regulatory requirements. By 2013, the landfill gas generated and captured at Green Lane Landfill will be sufficient to produce approximately 10 megawatts of electricity, which is to be used to help offset the need for electricity from non-renewable sources.

10 MW is nothing to sneeze at, and Green Lane claims that they can get to 16 MW with time. Toronto expects the landfill space in London to be sufficient for 17 to 28 years, depending on how successful recycling efforts are - and so far, it sounds like they have been very successful. That has slowed the trash trucks coming to Michigan over the past few years.

• In 2009, 44 per cent of Toronto’s residential waste was diverted from landfill through the Blue Bin, Green Bin, Yard Waste and other diversion programs. That equals 363,891 tonnes of garbage.

• Toronto's Green Bin organics program, which collects food waste, wet-paper waste, diapers and pet waste from 440,000 single-family homes and about 70,000 multi-residential units weekly, is the largest organic waste diversion program on the continent.

• In 2009, the Green Bin program diverted approximately 85,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill (resulting in 2,500 fewer trucks to Michigan landfill).

• In 2009, Toronto residents recycled 139,757 tonnes of recyclables through the Blue Bin program (resulting in 4,100 fewer trucks to Michigan).

And why Michigan in the first place? We are cheap. Too cheap. Way too cheap.

In a telephone call with reporters, Stabenow said stopping commercial trash is tough and the most effective way would be for Michigan to raise its tipping fees from 21 cents per ton. The state’s rates are the cheapest among Great Lakes states.

Wisconsin charges $12 per ton and Illinois charges $2 per ton, Stabenow said, making Michigan an economic magnet for trash not only from Canada but from other states.

Yeah, let's change that. Have some pride, people.