Friday, September 30, 2005

Toronto's Garbage Wars

One of the great benefits of NAFTA for Canadians has been the globalization of trash. When the City of Toronto closed its municipal landfill in 2002, it opted to export its solid waste to its southern neighbor. Luckily, for the good citizens of Toronto, Wayne County, Michigan--hurting from decades of deindustrialization and an anemic economy--gladly accepted the new imports at the Carlton Farms landfill in New Boston, MI.

Operated by Florida-based, Republic Services, the landfill has proved to be quite profitable.

Of course profitability for the company and getting rid of waste for Toronto has come at a price for folks in Michigan. There have been reports of attempts to clandestinely import biohazards which Carlton Farms is not equipped to process. Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm has been battling for the last couple of years to restrict Canadian imports, but has been stymied by the federal government for interfering with "international commerce."

Toronto's Mayor David Miller isn't taking any chances. This week it was revealed that Toronto and its neighboring regional municipalities secretly commissioned a report to find other places within Province to dump their trash should the Michigan border become closed.

When the existence of the plan was publicized, many municipalities within the province balked at the prospect at having to take the Greater Toronto Region's garbage and roundly criticized Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for a lack of leadership.

Of course, it would be nice if Toronto and its neighbors adopted a more sustainable approach towards dealing with their waste. Don't hold your breath for this to happen, however. In Newmarket, York Region, there were reports this week from residents that they didn't like the smells emanating from the town's organic recycling facility.

On a related note, followers of this blog may have noticed that we went on an extended hiatus. We are trying to get back in the swing of things this autumn. I'd be curious to know if anyone is actually reading. Please leave comments or email to

linked to Outside the Beltway