Where is our waste going?

May 26, 2008

Healthy Environment

I continue to get regular correspondence asking where our waste is going so here is the answer:

The waste in the blue bag is being recycled through our own facility at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre on Dunlop Drive in the east end of the city .  We receive approximately $3 million for the recyclable materials we recover from your efforts in sorting waste in the home.  This money is used to reduce the cost of waste management for our residents.

The waste in the green bag is being sent to an energy from waste incinerator in New York.  This does two things.  It keeps our organic waste out of landfill where it can create leachate and threaten ground water quality.  Organic material in landfills also produces methane which has four times the impact of carbon dioxide on climate change.  Secondly, the facility extracts some value from the organic waste through the production of electricity.  Shipping our waste to this facility is a temporary solution as we work to reopen our organics facility.

The waste in the clear bag continues to go to landfill as it always has.

Continued good sorting by our residents is still essential for the effective management of our waste.   



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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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15 Comments on “Where is our waste going?”

  1. Geoff Wheeler Says:

    Is there a time frame for the reopening of the organics facility?

  2. Greg Says:

    All of my waste is going into the gigantic brown bin behind my apartment. I recycle nothing. Why? Because I’m tired of spending my own money ($2 a bag) and my own gas ($1.26 a litre) to drive my recyclables to the waste management site while my neighbors across the street in a house get them picked up curbside.

    When — I say WHEN — is the city going to solve the problems in multi-unit homes?

    It’s a joke I can’t get my recyclables picked up at my door or on my property like everyone else.

    You keep telling yourself the city is green Mrs. Mayor.

  3. Kate Sullivan Says:

    Hi Geoff,

    The organics facility is expected to re-open in 2010, with design and approvals taking place in 2008-09 and construction in 2009-10.

    – Kate Sullivan, Mayor’s Office

  4. Sarah Galliher Says:

    I am disappointed with the way new residents are informed about the waste system here. I have just moved to town from a neighbouring municipality and am having alot of difficulty memorizing the charts of wet, dry and other on the website.
    While I feel the website is positive and informative, I would appreciate some kind of a more personal training opportunity, in addition to a searchable database. I would like to type in twist tie and the database spit out the answer of how to dispose of it.
    If any of these things are already in place and I simply have not been made aware of them, please contact me. I am excited about Wet/Dry, but I need to know how to do it correctly.

    And thanks so much for the breakdown, I too had been curious about where waste was heading.

    I guess based on that explanation, then back yard composters would be the ideal way to handle some of the wet waste, to reduce the volume of material being shipped to New York?

  5. Beate Schwirtlich Says:

    I have heard from employees of the Wet-Dry centre that “special pick-up” waste (collected, I think, by smaller trucks, as on my street) isn’t always sorted, and sometimes goes into landfill. Also, our glass isn’t currently recycled at all, correct?

  6. Kate Sullivan Says:

    Hi Greg,

    In response to your question about waste pick-up at apartments:

    Apartment buildings are covered under the Ministry of the Environment (Ontario Regulation 103/04) which requires that all apartment buildings with 6 or more units provide recycling services.

    The City does not provide waste collection for apartment buildings; individual building managers are responsible for these programs and they usually hire private waste collection firms. If your building has 6 or more units, you may want to enquire why a recycling program has not been provided as mandated by the MOE.

    Despite this, the City is currently looking at what programs we can offer to multi-residential units through the update to our Waste Management Master Plan.

    Hope this helps.

    -Kate Sullivan, Mayor’s Office.

  7. Greg Says:

    Thanks Kate. I called the MOE.

    Hopefully someone will enforce this regulation.

  8. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Beate,

    I checked with staff regarding your questions:

    When the different coloured bags are collected together, recyclables are intended to be sorted out at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre.

    You are correct that glass is not currently being recycled. As part of the 2008 budget process, Council approved funding to invest in a system to address current issues, and allow us to start recycling glass again in the near future.

    Hope this helps.

    – Kate Sullivan, Mayor’s Office

  9. Matt Shacklady Says:

    Can I ask what happens to yard waste that gets picked up twice a year? Does that get turned in to compost, incinerated or does it go to landfill.

    I would love to see a system which takes the yard waste from Guelph, turns it in to compost and is then sold back to Guelph gardeners to put back on their soil.

    As well as being the perfect closed loop system, it would generate income.

    Currently we are taking away from the soil, and not putting anything back – or if we are it’s from somewhere else.

    Is there a plan to sell the compost created by the new organic facility back to residents of Guelph. Again, a perfect opportunity to keep things local, benefit gardeners and generate income.

  10. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Matt,

    In response to your questions…

    Guelph’s yard waste is composted by a company called Gro-bark.

    Re the new organics facility, it’s still a little too early to say whether compost will be sold back to residents, as the technology hasn’t been chosen yet. Thanks for your comment.

    Kate Sullivan, Mayor’s Office

  11. jerry Says:

    Hi to the response of were are green bags go,isn’t it bad for the
    enviroment to ship our waste to New York when it could be
    done here.I mean consider the carbon pumped into the
    atmosphere from the exhaust from the trucks,the cost itself
    of shipping the waste.Sure it keeps it out of the landfill but
    the cost must be out of this world?
    There has got to be a proper solution,so instead of wasting
    money on this study or that just spend the money and fix the
    problem and stop it being a white elephant?

  12. Lee Says:

    This is a good thing – If it is true that the separated garbage is in fact being recycled.

    I was informed by a city worker that the separated bags were in fact not being recycled and that all garbage was being sent to Detroit (or where ever non separated garbage is sent.)

    I was also told that when the Wet dry plant closed down that so did the recycling – however they did not want people to forget how to do it in case it ever returned.

    I would like to see a reduction at stores for the cost of the coloured bags – they are very expensive!

    It seems ridiculous that I have to purchase these just to throw them out!

    The city should offer these to residents for free — as we certainly pay enough money in taxes.

  13. Sarah Says:

    Hi Lee,
    I am pretty sure it says somewhere that you don’t have to use a blue bag for your recyclables, you can just place them in a container clearly marked DRY, and leave at the curb (sometimes this can even be in the form of a green garbage bin).
    Also, if you have a backyard composter, the amount of materials being placed in the green bag can be reduced substantially, possibly requiring only 1 green bag a week.

  14. Lee Says:

    thank you for your response. Like many peoploe in Guelph, I live in an apartment and as such, not allowed to leave loose items in the garbage room for pick up. Obviously a composter is out of the question.

    Does the city have any pull with Zehrs and the other grocery stores?
    No Frills has green and blue bags for their groceries. Would it be possible to ask the other stors to follow along?

  15. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Lee,

    In response to your question about grocery store bags:

    The City has encouraged stores to move to the blue and green bags, but other than persuasion, we do not have any authority to require them to use them. The City and the mayor were thrilled when No Frills showed leadership on this issue.

    I am sure that customers would have an influence; you may want to consider making a request to store management.

    I hope this helps.


    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

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