Disposal of Construction Garbage in Toronto

Inside a Solid Waste drop-in Depot, Toronto, Canada. Garbage everywhere.

Inside a Solid Waste drop-in Depot, Toronto, Canada. Garbage everywhere.

Not all garbage is disposed of in the same matter. Here in Toronto, Canada we have fairly strict rules of garbage disposal. There are organics, recyclables and yard waste, all with their special pickup schedules. And then there the pickup for “the rest”, that that is destined for land fill, tilled down and buried into some hill, whereabouts unknown. Old shingles from my recent shingling task needed to be disposed of, so off to the Toronto Solid Waste Drop-off Depot I went.

Torontonians seem to be fanatical about the ever changing weather and garbage disposal. We sort out all our garbage to an amazingly fine detail. How someone trained us to do this monkey work and actually enjoy it is a mystery.

There are the organics, which are all vegetable and fruit peelings, plant material and anything else that is natural and can be degraded. Most of this, with the exception of meat products and think tree branches, goes into my composter. We use our composter all year, in all weather. While fine in the summer, in the winter I often need to knock the ice off the top with a good rap or two in order to free the lid. Refuse I put into the large black bin in the winter promptly freezes, then thaws out to a gooey mess in the spring. All this compost goes right back into my garden. Nothing is wasted. While I do not consider myself a die hard, tree hugging environmentalist, I try to do my part to not destroy our dear Mother Earth. A futile attempt, one might say, but to not try would be courting certain disaster.

Those that do not compost or for items unsuitable for the composter, but not plastic, can go into our weekly green bin pickup.

Yard waste is the next category. These are tree trimmings, leaves, roots and anything that grew in your yard. This biweekly pickup is usually frequent enough, but in the fall with all the leaves dropping from the trees, biweekly is not sufficient. There is no defined bin colour or size for yard waste. Some people buy large paper bags, and some people use plastic yard waste containers.

Recyclables (goes into a blue bin) are anything such as paper, styrofoam, card board, metal cans, etc but only specific types of plastic, that can be recycled by the City of Toronto. The list of acceptable recyclables constantly changes each year, so I need to review the acceptable list. It is a little complex. I have put items out that were on the acceptable list, only to be rejected by the garbage guy and thrown on my lawn. Hey, I thought we’d be reading the same list of acceptable items, but sometimes we have differences. This biweekly pickup has no limit on bin size. There is no extra charge to pickup more recyclables, as Toronto is encouraging recycling.

The four sizes of grey garbage bins, Toronto. The larger the size the more you pay.

The four sizes of grey garbage bins, Toronto. The larger the size the more you pay.

The rest of everything else, including all excluded plastics, goes into what I call regular garbage (goes into a grey bin). The city simply calls this “garbage”. These are items that go into a landfill somewhere near Toronto, though I do not know where. Home owners can choose between four sized bins, depending on family size and preference. Use the smallest bin and you get a small credit from the city. Use any of the medium, large or extra large, and the City charges you a premium. Most people have opted for the small size, which holds only one garbage bag worth of garbage. There is also a long list of unacceptable items for the grey bin. One of these is construction material, such as wood for framing a house and my used shingles.

To dispose of my shingles I had to figure out where is the nearest Toronto Solid Waste Drop-off Depot. They are open most days and for long hours, but infrequently for residential waste. The hours for residential waste are all day Mondays, and only 6-8 am and 6-8 pm on weekdays. This is most inconvenient, and I had to plan my trip accordingly.

Waste at the Drop-off Depot is charged by the kilogram, the more you have the more you pay. They weigh your vehicle as you enter, using a large scale built into the pavement. Then some guy directs you to a place where you can dump your trash. No workers help you, so you are on your own. Once you have dumped everything, your vehicle is weighed again. The difference is the amount of trash you disposed. My shingles weighed 260 kg, or 573 lbs, and I payed $26CAD. This works out to $0.10 per kilo or $0.45 per lb. A standard bundle of shingles that weights 75 lbs would have a disposal fee of $3.40CAD, or an additional 19% of its original cost.

There is a minimum charge of $10CAD. The Depot’s credit card reader was broken so they only took cash, which I thankfully had. The whole ordeal was relatively painless, though calculating the dumping cost and hours of operation from their web site was confusing. Getting up for the 6 am trip to the Depot was also unappealing, but I do hate a queue.

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