As if all of the negative press the city of Toronto received during the garbage strike wasn’t bad enough, now there is another trash-related controversy going on. This time, it has nothing to do with dangerous chemicals seeping into our soil, but instead with many garbage workers admitting to throwing Toronto’s ‘Green Bin’ organic waste in with the trash. And if this is going on Toronto, who knows where else it’s happening?
A new report by the Toronto Star has found that thousands upon thousands of pounds of green bin waste that had been carefully sorted by city residents was passed through a transfer station only to be tossed into the trucks heading to the Michigan landfill along with other trash. The reason? To make the truck load heavier, and the jobs of those involved a lot easier. In fact, some managers of transfer stations have even been accused of ordering employees to use this tactic, referring to the organic waste as “the special stuff”.
Since the trailers that haul the trash are paid for in a flat-rate scenario, it’s in the best interest of the city to pack the trucks as close to their maximum load of 37.5 tonnes as possible. But while they’re making their lives easier, they’re undoing the good work the citizens of Toronto have done in sorting through their garbage, and they’re putting a greater strain on the environment in the landfills.
Not only does packing trucks full of organic material take up space and cause for unnecessary fuel usage, but it also doesn’t decompose in a landfill the same way it would in a compost bin. In a landfill, the waste ends up emitting methane gas, and harming the environment more than it helps it.
Although many city workers are speaking out against these allegations, there have been enough complaints and first-hand reports from city workers to make environmentalists in the city raise a few concerns of their own. Is the system that claimed to have diverted 94,000 tonnes of kitchen waste last year really a waste of everyone’s time?
Maybe we should just be burning our trash, like It’s Always Sunny recommends:
All joking aside – this is a serious issue. And if it’s happening in Toronto, it may as easily be happening in every city that has an organic waste program. If you live in a city that collects your organic waste, and especially if you don’t, it’s a good idea to considering starting your own backyard compost, or scentless indoor vermicompost. Make the best use of your waste that you can and feed your garden!
For simple vermicomposting instructions from California’s teacher’s guide, click here