Tag Archives: Geoff Rathbone

Garbage fee hike cancelled

Solid waste budget gets additional cash to avoid trash rate hike
Millions saved during summer strike diverted to garbage department
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Oct. 28 for Town Crier.)

Call it the garbage fee hike that never was.
Toronto city council couldn’t stomach implementing a proposed two percent increase for trash fees so soon after a strike that saw garbage collection suspended for 39 days.
The fee would generate an additional $4.8 million for the solid waste management department to implement additional waste diversion programs such as additional reuse centres for old mattresses and furniture to be recycled or sold rather than tossed in landfill. The proposed fee hike would have meant an additional $4-8 per bin depending on the size.
But instead of raising garbage rates, the city approved using $4.8 million out of the $36.1 million “saved” during this summer’s strike for the garbage department’s 2010 budget to hold the line on fees. Continue reading

City going green with organic bins

Foul odours turn off some
Toronto implements green bins for residents
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 18/2004 for Town Crier.)
This is a look back at to an article I wrote five years ago as the city now grapples with how to roll out organic waste collection for apartment dwellers…

Councillor Jane Pitfield and Geoff Rathbone, the director of policy and planning for Toronto’s works department, introduce the green bin.

You couldn’t have helped noticing a big, 45-litre green bin delivered to your door recently, in preparation for the city’s new organic garbage collection program starting in the former Toronto, York and East York the week of Oct. 18/04.
Inside the bin are two things: an info sheet telling you what can and can’t go into the green bin and a small beige indoor container for kitchen scraps, which can then be dumped into the outdoor bin. Continue reading

Five cent bag tax resulting in reduced use

Councillor Walker wants proof five cent plastic bag fee reduces use
Grocery chains interim results indicates it has, for me it’s meant no new bags
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 4 for Town Crier.)

Most Torontonians want to do right by the environment.
The city has a policy aimed at getting us to reduce our use of plastic sopping bags and produce less garbage. And if we don’t follow along, it will cost us more money.
This five-cent plastic bag fee that kicked in June 1.
The city’s aim in this recent bylaw is to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in littering the streets or sent to landfill.
Midtown councillor Michael Walker is asking how many fewer bags are being used as a result of the nickel charge.
The city manager responded Sept. 30 to Walker’s inquiry. The short answer is we don’t know yet.
The General Manager Geoff Rathbone will be reporting back to the city after May 31 when the policy is a year old. At that time industry will report back to the city on how many fewer plastic bags customers are using.
So far, Metro (which bought Dominion) grocery stores have reported that by June 29 there was already a 70 percent reduction in plastic bags compared to the monthly average.
Supermarket giant Loblaw introduced the bag charge earlier back in January and also reported a 75 percent reduction in plastic bags now that customers were charged.
We shall see if this reduction in plastic bag use was just initial reaction to the nickel charge and if consumers will embrace alternatives such as reusable bags or carts.
According to 2005 audit data by Stewardship Ontario, collectively in Toronto we use 457 million retail plastic shopping bags annually.
That’s 8.8 plastic retail shopping bags, per family weekly. Continue reading

What I learned from city strike

We produce too much garbage, litter and packaging
I am doing my own waste audit to see how I can improve
By Kris Scheuer
(Column originally published in Town Crier Aug. 4)

Something stinks in the “state” of Toronto and it’s not just the garbage strike.
As a city hall reporter and lifelong Torontonian, here is my trash talk on garbage, litter and my top observations during the nearly six week labour unrest.
Number 1: we produce way too much waste, folks.
We deposited a total of 25,000 tonnes of waste in 26 temporary, neighbourhood garbage dumps, Geoff Rathbone, head of solid waste management told reporters on July 30.
Let’s think about that for a sec. The dumps opened June 25, some of them, such as Christie Pits, closed a mere 11 days later because they were at capacity. The amount of garbage we threw out at these dumps doesn’t even include the tonnes thrown out at seven waste transfer stations. Continue reading

City starts cleaning up garbage tonight

Alberta-St.Clair 3.jpg
Street trash on St. Clair West. Photo Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

City starts picking up litter and street trash at midnight
Regular garbage collection resumes next week
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier July 30.)
Toronto should look a little cleaner and smell better starting tomorrow.
That’s because litter and garbage will start to be cleaned up off the streets as early as midnight tonight Geoff Rathbone, general manager of Solid Waste Management told a press conference this afternoon.
“As you can imagine cleaning up the city will be a large and complex operation,” he said around 3 p.m. “We will commence work early tomorrow morning by beginning the process of emptying and returning to service the city’s 5,000 litter bins.”
If city council approves the contracts for CUPE local 416 tomorrow, the 26 temporary dumps will be emptied of about 25,000 tonnes of garbage starting on Aug. 2.
“Our goals are the removal of the waste from all sites by Sunday evening to allow for the sites to return to normal operations,” Rathbone said. Continue reading

Toronto cracks down on illegal dumping

City has issued thousands of fines, hundreds of tickets during garbage strike

By Kris Scheuer
(Originally published July 15/09 for the Town Crier.)
Some Torontonians are not bothering to take waste to temporary mini-trashe sites and are dumping garbage instead.
Now the city is cracking down.
“We have now issued 328 fines and over 6,800 warnings have been issued,” Geoff Rathbone, general manager of solid waste management services said at a July 15 city press conference. “Many of those have been issued at the temporary drop off sites and transfer stations but also on streets.”
Leisa Tjoeng, a spokesperson for the city, specified that 6,849 illegal dumping warnings had been issued as of the morning of July 15. Fines start at $380 a pop.
While the city is not removing garbage from temporary neighbourhood dumps, the city is cleaning up litter and illegally dumped trash during the labour disruption where possible.
Rathbone added, “We are using our management staff at both transfer stations and temporary drop off sites and where resources allow on streets to clean litter for special events and on a periodic basis on regular streets.”