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TTC program finally in the can

Bins on the way for tins, bottles

Michigan’s rules raising bar in T.O.

PAUL MOLONEY
CITY HALL BUREAU

The state of Michigan has achieved something environmentalists couldn’t: getting the Toronto Transit Commission to recycle its trash.

After Michigan banned recyclable cans and bottles from its landfills Nov. 1, the TTC scrambled to hire a recycling company to sort through the system’s waste and pull out the drink containers.

While the TTC has been recycling newspapers, it balked at putting out bins for pop cans and juice bottles, which were being trucked to Michigan as part of the 350 tonnes of garbage transit riders generate every month.

“The TTC has resisted having a good recycling program over the years due to cost,” said Gord Perks, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

The TTC hired Turtle Island Recycling to sort and segregate recyclables from the garbage, paying $170,000 for the six months to the end of April.

Today, the commissioners will be asked to approve extending the contract for seven months, from June 1 to Dec. 31, at a cost of $290,000.

By then, the TTC hopes to have bottle and can recycling bins in all 66 subway stations, said operations manager Gary Webster.

“The idea is by the end of the year we should be in a position to manage this on our own,” Webster said. Perks said it’ll likely be a lot cheaper once bins are in place for riders to use. Then, sorting through the trash to retrieve cans and bottles won’t be necessary.


‘Because our garbage now goes over the border and the recipients can set rules, that’s driving a lot of change.’

—Gord Perks,
Toronto Environmental Alliance


“That’ll save them a lot of money. They might even make a little money on the aluminum,” he said.

“This is very good news,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, TTC vice-chair. “I think it’s very important for the city and all its agencies, boards and commissions to walk the talk.”

Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) said the fact Toronto has had to resort to trucking trash to Michigan has started to change attitudes.

“People really feel uncomfortable, Torontonians, shipping this stuff to Michigan.”

Councillor Jane Pitfield (Ward 26, Don Valley West), chair of council’s works committee, congratulated the TTC and said she hopes schools, fast food outlets and service stations get behind recycling efforts.

“It’s a big step that the TTC are now doing this,” said Pitfield. “I think it’s vital that we collect recyclables in the subway.”

Michigan needs to be thanked as well, Perks said.

“The thing that’s interesting here is because our garbage now goes over the border and the recipients can set rules, that’s driving a lot of change.”

He credited Michigan’s restrictions for Toronto’s decision to install radiation detectors to weed out medical waste at its transfer stations.




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