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Region talks trash costs

Waste operation costs not as they appear

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

To the uninformed eye, costs associated with solid waste in Durham Region may be quite puzzling.

According to the 2018 solid waste management servicing and financing study, Durham has some the lowest collection costs, yet highest disposal costs per tonne in comparison with a number of other municipalities.

In 2016, the region paid $237 per tonne for the disposal of solid waste. This amount is twice that of the reported costs of Toronto ($120), Windsor ($114), and Waterloo ($102), and almost 10 times that of London ($27).

However, as Craig Bartlett, manager of waste operations for the region explains, there are a number of factors to take into consideration when looking at these numbers.

“It is misleading as it compares municipalities with different circumstances,” Bartlett says.

Municipalities have differing costs due to having to pay more for transportation and landfill care and closure costs.

Bartlett says the figure included in the 2018 study includes $2.1 million of costs for closed landfills, $7.9 million in amortization costs for the Durham York Energy Centre and $8 million in waste processing costs due to the first full year of operations at the DYEC.

When taking away these factors, Bartlett says Durham’s actual disposal rate per tonne in 2016 was $64/tonne.

In terms of collection, in 2016, Durham paid $83/per tonne.

Bartlett notes there are numerous private sector operators qualified to undertake this duty on the behalf of the region.

“This results in competitive pricing for the region.”

Bartlett notes there are a number of factors that could affect costs in the future.

“The biggest challenge is diversion at apartment buildings, and we believe that anaerobic digestion and pre-sort technology will be critical to make gains in diversion and delay the needs for expansion of the Durham York Energy Centre. The new technology will enable the region to comply with the Provincial Organic Food strategy directive of 70 per cent capture rates and move the region towards 70 per cent diversion.”

Changes to the province’s Blue Box program, which will see producers take financial responsibility for collection and disposal of recyclable materials, will also play a role in future expenses.