NEWS
11/11/2011 04:51 EST | Updated 01/11/2012 05:12 EST

Toronto Environment Days: Budget Committee Looking To Reduce Days From 44 To 11

Proposed changes to the way Toronto collects recycling and hazardous materials will harm the environment and cost more, a local environmental group said Friday.

On Thursday the budget committee suggested the city could save $600,000 by ending excess recycling pickup and reducing the number of community environment days.

Currently, residents can leave extra recyclables in clear, plastic bags next to their blue bin but the committee voted to eliminate the service, which costs about $500,000 a year.

City staff say about 10 per cent of households routinely put out more than can fit in bins.

Coun. Mike Del Grande, the city's budget chief, said the move is necessary to become more efficient.

"If people are very conscious they can bring them to a transfer station," he said.

Residents can also upgrade to a larger recycling bin for free.

However, Emily Allfred from the Toronto Environmental Alliance said providing larger or multiple bins could cost more.

"This makes no sense for taxpayers, for people who have excess recycling once or twice a year, or for households that don’t have the space for extra-large bins." she said in a release.

Getting rid of the pickup is also inconvenient, she said.

"People may end up putting it in the garbage," Allfred said.

Needs executive committee approval

The budget committee also wants to reduce the number of community environment days when residents can drop off hazardous materials and recyclables and pick up free compost.

These days are held in each of the city's 44 wards, and some councillors say they provide a way to check in with residents.

However, the budget committee wants to cut back the number of environment days to 11 which would save $100,000.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said it is the right thing to do.

"I think a lot of residents like the environment [days]. I think they especially like the fact that they can go and get compost for free, " he said. "But we're trying to keep our costs down."

Allfred said the savings could be offset by other costs, saying residents without an environment day in their ward will instead throw material in the garbage or use Toxic Taxi — a service where the city picks up less than 50 kilograms of hazardous waste for free.

Earlier this summer, consultants had suggested the city eliminate the days completely but council later voted to keep them.

Both of the changes need to be approved by the city's executive committee.