Monday, December 14, 2009

Blue Box Blues Part I (and a half)

In advance of my second piece on the Blue Box, I needed to do some preparation and research. Along the way I discovered some interesting reports on the state of curbside collections of diverted waste from 216 Ontario Municipalities. As this was predominately numerical data, I was able to extrapolate information from the various reports and put into one representative report. The findings are interesting, and in some cases disturbing.

Using 2008 data (being the latest available), I was not only able to see which Municipality had the highest (& lowest) diversion rate, but also who spent the most money to get to where they are. Enjoy the following information; I hope you find it as interesting as I did:

  • The Town of Mono recorded the largest diversion rate in 2008 of 55.03%. It was a modest increase from 2007, where they saw a 54.69% rate (also the highest for 2007).
  • The Township of Whitewater Region owned the lowest rate, at a paltry 1.79%. They also recorded the largest decrease in diversion rates, falling a whopping 964.25% from 2007 where they recorded a 19.05% diversion rate.
  • It goes without saying that the City of Toronto diverted the most waste (all diversion numbers are based on weight) in 2008, as they had 166,678 tonnes of recyclables/compostables diverted from the landfill.

When it comes to spending money on diverting waste, it is important to look at more than just the figure; there are capital expenditures (blue boxes, green bins, sorting equipment, et al), operation expenditures (collection crew, management, et al), and marketing tools. All of which impact the cost to divert in some form of variance. Here are some of the spending highlights:

  • There's no question that if you're going to collect the most diversion, it would go without saying that you'd also incur the most cost, as Toronto does. But, where Toronto does not lead is in cost per tonne…we'll give that award to the Municipality of Killarney…they spent $9,423.35 per tonne collected…ouch! They were at a 28.25% diversion rate, down from 37.54% in 2007.
  • Spending the least per tonne was the Town of Petrolia. They spent $27.63 per tonne. Their diversion rate for 2008 was 23.17%, up from 19.4% in 2007.

The interesting part of putting this data together was not only seeing the wide range of costs, diversion rates, and collected tonnage, the other piece was recognizing who stood out in the mix:

  • The Regional Municipality of Durham, which includes the towns of Whitby, Ajax, Pickering and Oshawa to name a few, ranked as the 5th largest Municipality in terms of tonnage collected, recorded the 8th lowest (out of 216) in terms of cost at $97.55/tonne. Their diversion rate was 49.44%, up from 47.7% in 2007. They were the only Municipality in the Top 30 (in terms of tonnage collected) to show in the Top 10 Lowest Spent Per Tonne Ranking.
  • One can only assume that the City of Guelph hit a reporting snag from 2007 to 2008, as they show as one of the most expensive Municipalities in terms of cost per tonne, showing at $728.75. Making this number more terrifying, is that their diversion rate dropped from 43.84% to 25.44%. They currently sit as the 188th most expensive location out of 216. Not good.
  • Probably the biggest disappointment in the calculations is the City of Ottawa. Sitting as the 4th largest community in terms of tonnes diverted (65,410.44), they hold the distinction of the lowest diversion rate of any of their counterparts in the Top 10, with a rate of 33.02% up slightly from 2007 of 32.26%. They spend slightly less than the City of Brockville who has a rate of 41.47%($133.73/tonne vs. $135.71), but more than the Regional Municipality of Waterloo ($121.37/tonne) which shows a 47.12% diversion rate.

For you Hamilton, Ontario fans:

  • 7th largest in terms of tonnage collected at 40,831.83 tonnes.
  • Sit as the 51st lowest spend at $182.12/tonne
  • 44.31% diversion rate in 2008, up from 43.01% in 2007
  • 21st highest diversion rate in Ontario in 2008, moving upwards from the 29th position in 2007.

If you are interested in seeing the entire data collection, I have it in an excel file, and all of the figures were provided by Waste Diversion Ontario. Drop me an email request at for more information.

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