Current State: Our achievements and where we want to improve
Since the introduction of the Green Cart program, enhanced Blue Box program and expanded services at the Halton Waste Management Site, we have increased our waste diversion rate by more than 15 per cent and extended the life of the landfill by more than 30 years.
However, there are still areas where we can improve our diversion rate as a community.
- In Halton, approximately 45 per cent of materials in the average bag of garbage could have been composted or recycled.
- While the Halton Waste Management Site (HWMS) is expected to stay open until 2044-2048, there was a significant increase in the amount of waste disposed in 2020—likely due to the pandemic. If these levels remain elevated, the life of the landfill will be shortened.
- The Provincial and Federal Governments are also working to improve waste diversion in Ontario and across Canada with upcoming policies and programs, including:
- Halton Region’s 2019–2022 Strategic Business Plan (PDF file) also identifies the need to implement programs to maximize waste diversion in Halton as part of the Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change objective. This is a key action identified by residents, businesses and Regional Council.
Solid Waste Management Strategy
Building on the strengths of our Region, provide a sustainable, equitable and responsible waste management service that efficiently serves our community, protects our environment and is responsive to change.
The Region has developed a Solid Waste Management Strategy to enhance the current waste management system in the community. The Strategy aims to help reduce the amount of garbage produced, extend the life of the landfill and address climate change by lowering carbon emissions.
What we expect to achieve
The Strategy identifies several key initiatives that would be implemented to:
- divert between five per cent and 11 per cent more waste from landfill by 2030.
- extend the landfill capacity from 2044 to between 2050–2054; and
- have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13,020 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from:
- more than 8,700 homes’ electricity use;
- more than 3,980 passenger vehicles; or
- more than 5.54 million litres of gas consumed.
The key initiatives would be implemented incrementally and are anticipated to result in an estimated average annual cost increase of $21 per household. A comprehensive cost breakdown can be found in the Solid Waste Management Strategy (PDF file).
The Strategy includes key initiatives to enhance and improve the Region’s waste management programs and services. These initiatives consider ways that we can all work together to make a difference, including the community as whole, single-family and multi-residential households, businesses and the Region’s solid waste system.
To help support residents in reducing household waste, the Strategy identifies six key initiatives that will help improve waste services for residents. The initiatives will encourage households to participate in our waste programs and find more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Provide two additional permanent locations where residents can drop off waste, such as:
- yard waste;
- household hazardous waste;
- metal and appliances; and
- reusable items in good condition.
- Feasibility studies will determine the preferred location of new drop-off depots.
- Locate depots closer to high-density urban areas to reduce travel times and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
- Expand reuse and recycling programs to add more Provincially-designated materials, such as fabrics (textiles).
- Initial focus to be on textiles, which would be handled and marketed by third party or charitable organization.
- Pilot program to be done with single-family households in urban areas.
- Potential to expand materials in the future.
- Support, partner and/or partially fund organizations involved in the sharing economy (for example, repair cafes or tool libraries)
- Provide support for local innovators and/or organizations that design for the environment and/or reduce, reuse and reclaim waste.
- Develop a Reduce, Repair and Reuse Strategy.
- Engage local/regional/province-wide businesses and social entrepreneurs in new circular economy/zero waste initiatives.
- Refocus of Waste Diversion Fund to circular economy.
- Decrease garbage bag limits in two phases:
- In the first phase, the current three-bag bi-weekly limit would be reduced to two bags in 2023.
- In the second phase, the bi-weekly limit would be reduced to one bag in 2031.
- Extensive promotion and education would accompany these changes, including tips on how to reduce waste.
- The bag limit aims to encourage residents to:
- reduce overall household waste; and
- participate in waste diversion programs, such as the Blue Box and Green Cart programs.
An automated wheeled cart program aims to:
- reduce windy day litter;
- protect the health and safety of waste collection crews; and
- moderate future waste collection costs.
A feasibility study will include:
- a review of automated wheeled-cart collection programs in other municipalities;
- estimated cost to implement and operate an automated wheel-cart collection service; and
- proposals for how a pilot study could be conducted to inform a wheeled-cart program for Halton households.
- Improve waste diversion in multi-residential buildings through increased and targeted promotion, education and assessments. Outreach to be carried out on a continual basis to address multi-residential management and tenant turnover. Approximately 100 buildings will be targeted annually based on waste audits and program participation rates.
- A high-level multi-residential database will continue to be used for tracking building performance. This will include program issues (contamination), waste audit results, program participation, outreach efforts, management/tenant interactions and program interest.
- Update multi-residential information toolkit (promotion and education material on how to use waste programs in building) and building signage.
- Introduce technology to track waste quantities of multi-residential buildings using ID tags on waste bins. The new technology will enhance collection and reporting of waste diversion and monitor multi-residential building performance. Results will be used to investigate the implementation of limits on the amount of garbage to be collected from multi-residential households.
These service improvements have the potential to:
- increase Halton’s waste diversion rate by up to six per cent. This would bring the current diversion rate from 59 per cent to 65 per cent.
- reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4,980 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from:
- 3,329 homes’ electricity use;
- 1,526 passenger vehicles; or
- 2+ million litres of gas consumed.
The Strategy includes other initiatives that will support enhancements to waste management in Halton. The initiatives below provide opportunities to further reduce community waste, enhance waste management and landfill operations, and help address climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
- Expand service levels in collection contracts to provide better data collection to help with program compliance.
- Contracted collection staff to provide information to when waste is not properly sorted.
- Collection staff will conduct curbside garbage audits of households and apartments/condo buildings to determine whether items are being placed in the right bin.
- This will help inform households about how to properly sort their waste.
- Continue to find new ways to promote waste management programs to increase program participation and educate the community on proper use of waste programs, such as social media campaigns.
- Conduct market research into effective terminology to encourage diversion.
- Place information booths at pop-up events staffed by students/volunteers.
- Provide more educational materials and resources to targeted households to improve compliance with the Region’s waste management by-laws and increase participation in waste diversion programs.
- Employ students during the summer months to:
- monitor curbside waste; and
- provide educational materials to households to encourage participation in waste diversion programs.
- Conduct a feasibility study to determine where and how “Smart City” technology is being used to support waste diversion programs.
- For example, vacuum waste collection systems where waste is stored underground between collection to maximize space and improve appearances by removing waste containers and waste bins.
- The Smart City concept combines forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create sustainable communities.
- Organize a waste diversion campaign and dedicated webpage so small- and medium-sized businesses can learn more about waste programs and services. This will be especially important during Provincial and Federal regulatory changes to increase waste reduction and recycling.
- A dedicated webpage and helpful resources will be developed to support businesses with implementation of food waste and recycling programs, as well as program transition with new legislation (for example, ban on single-use plastic).
- Work with Economic Development to support IC&I customers with their waste management needs.
- Modify/enhance the utilization of landfill gas at the Halton Waste Management Site.
- Conduct a study to review our use of the landfill gas to determine if increased benefits can be achieved with how we use this renewable energy resource.
- Preferred alternatives may include:
- enhanced landfill gas electricity production;
- conversion of landfill gas to a biogas (for example, compressed natural gas for vehicle operations);
- heating of the Halton Waste Management Site buildings; and
- using landfill gas to support the local community.
- Require contractors to use alternatives fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from waste collection vehicles and onsite equipment (for example, using electric vehicles).
- Review ways to extend the capacity of the Halton Region Waste Management Site (landfill), which is projected to close in 2044-48.
- Continue to revisit the need and timing to expand the landfill.
- Conduct environmental assessments to explore potential options to extend landfill capacity by implementing vertical and/or horizontal expansion at the landfill.
- Optimize landfill operations (for example, more efficient compaction of garbage disposed of at the landfill).
- Review the use of new and emerging technologies to reduce the volume of waste requiring landfilling.
These supporting enhancements have the potential to:
- increase Halton’s waste diversion rate by up to five per cent. This would bring the current diversion rate from 59 per cent to 64 per cent.
- reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 8,050 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from:
- 5,381 homes’ electricity use;
- 2,467 passenger vehicles; or
- 3.2+ million litres of gas consumed.
Public consultation: summary
Between November 8 and December 10, 2021, we asked the community to provide input on Halton’s proposed Solid Waste Management Strategy. Residents were invited to take an online survey or participate in virtual Public Information Centres (PICs), which were held on November 23, 24 and 30. You can view a recording of the virtual PIC held on November 24, 2021 here (video).
Thank you to everyone who participated and provided input! Your comments and feedback were helpful in developing the Solid Waste Management Strategy.