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Toronto pushes climate change to back burner

Toronto is taking an aggressive approach to tackling climate change with a new plan to transform the city into a green metropolis — or are they?

TransformTO, the new climate change policy being proposed to city council, was supposed to be discussed on May 24, but it was deferred until the July 5.  This came as a disappointment to Toronto climate supporters, who would love to see the city embrace a plan that will actively decrease greenhouse gases in one of the Canada’s largest city.

The ambitious climate change plan would see Toronto reduce greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050. The city has already lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent, which has exceeded the six per cent 2012 climate change goal. In order to meet this more strenuous climate change goal by 2050 though, serious action is needed. The plan will take aggressive action to lower emissions, including diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfills to recycling programs and 100 per cent of public use vehicles will use zero-carbon energy. There would be more focus on creating bike lanes, infrastructure related to low-carbon vehicles, and cycling parking.

The climate change plan also wants Toronto to focus on building green houses, condos, and apartment buildings in the future. The plan would mandate city structures to have near-zero greenhouse gases by 2030 and retrofit most other buildings by 2040. Retrofitting buildings will save 40 per cent of energy costs and the city also wants to use renewable energy that would lower the amount of heat that homes use to 20 per cent of the rate used in 2015. This goal would be achieved by collecting waste heat and converting it into power.

TransformTO is an ambitious move that will ultimately help support creating a greener and healthier city — if it gets off the ground, that is. The City of Toronto would benefit by taking the climate change plan seriously and pushing it through as a key item in the July 5 council meeting to ensure no more delays.

Ontario moves towards zero-waste using a circular economy

Landfills are one of the most glaringly obvious examples of human waste, holding over 2.6 trillion pounds of trash worldwide per year. Over half of this garbage is organic waste, which can be composted. Many other sources of ‘garbage’ can be recycled or reused. Something needs to be done to reduce waste and Ontario is taking steps towards a zero-waste future.


Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario
is an initiative that will introduce a circular economy to begin the process to become zero-waste in the province. The strategy is a creation of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and is a welcome addition to Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. The circular economy is a model that would divert waste from landfills by changing from a make-use-dispose landfill system to a re-using products until they are truly not useful any longer. This will lower levels of waste substantially and will promote the use of the three R’s, reduce-reuse-recycle.

In 2014, Ontario generated 11.5 million tonnes of waste, nearly a tonne of waste per person every year. Approximately 75 per cent of this waste goes to the landfill.  It is definitely time for a massive change when it comes to managing waste. If Ontario increases organic waste diversion from landfills by 10 per cent, from 38 per cent to 48 per cent, it will prevent 275,000 tonnes of green gas emissions. According to the Ministry of the Environment, this is the equivalent of removing nearly 64,000 cars from Ontario roads per year.

In order to implement steps towards building a circular economy, Ontario will use the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which establishes full producer responsibility and makes them environmentally accountable for recovering resources and reducing waste. Producers are described as importers, wholesalers, retailers and e-tailers. The ministry will also create a Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry to oversee producer performance and will monitor progress of the producers’ waste reduction strategies.

The province plans to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020, 50 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050. The zero-waste plan has a relative timeline to meet these goals and in 2017, the province plans on developing the Food and Organic Waste Action Plan, and establishing the Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry. The ministry also plans on making amendments to 3R regulations, implementing the Organic Waste Action Plan and transitioning the Used Tires Program. All of these changes should make it possible to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020.

Zero-waste in Ontario sets the stage for the province to be a leader in creating a green economy that focuses on the financial gains of recycling and reusing items. It will save producers’ money to enact the 3R’s when disposing of used products and will reduce waste in the province. It is time for the green economy to become the mainstream way of making money in the western world, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is taking important steps to making that a reality.