Ontario's Environment Minister Laurel Broten has announced that Toronto and other municipalities need to stop diverting trash to Michigan by 2010.
The announcement is good news for Ontario's looming garbage crisis. It is also a good compromise that will stop Michigan from pursuing legislative channels that could have closed the border to Ontario's waste as early as the New Year, while spurring communities in Southern Ontario to adopt greater efficiency, conservation and recycling to handle their waste.
Among the solutions to handle future waste being proposed include municipal composting facilities (the first to open in Peel in April), low emission energy-from-waste incinerators, and adding to existing waste reduction targets such as Toronto's initial goal of a 20% reduction.
Though it is a painful and messy process, the situation illustrates the need to incorporate market signals into our environmental policies. With the closing of the border, Ontario will be forced to address the true cost of their garbage and handle their own waste in the face rising costs that are estimated to jump by 50 per cent — from $198 million in 2006 to $298 million - over the next 5 to 6 years.
Shouldering that cost burden spurs true innovation and responsibility, and the municipalities are already stepping up to the plate. Now its up to Premier Dalton McGinty to provide Ontario's cities with the sort of support they have been calling for for years.