Toronto: On the Road to Zero Waste

Two years after its launch, Toronto’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy’s overall focus is to divert as much waste as possible from landfill. To do so, the strategy recommends waste reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery, and residual disposal policies and programs – also known as the “5Rs” – that are environmentally sustainable, socially acceptable, and cost-effective. The strategy will assist Canada’s most populous city in achieving a 70% residential diversion rate. By working with community partners and leveraging existing social infrastructure, Toronto aims to divert an additional 200,000 metric tons of waste from landfill by 2026.

70% waste diversion from landfill by 2026


Toronto is also developing a pilot program to capture natural gas generated at the city’s anaerobic digestion facility, which would reduce 100,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. The strategy is included in Toronto’s Climate Change Action Plan, and will assist the city in reaching its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in 2050.

ZeroWaste_Toronto1Toronto-based artist Sean Martindale showcases the amount of garbage Toronto throws out every day in an art installation called, “There Is No Away.”

The challenge

By sending 50% of its residential waste to the city’s landfill, Toronto is looking at a full landfill by 2029. The new waste management strategy will extend the landfill’s life and help Toronto take its first steps towards a zero-waste future.


Economic Zero-waste goals support a local, circular economy. It is estimated that implementing the five Rs supports 10 times as many jobs as a simple disposal model.

Environmental The strategy seeks an overall reduction in consumption of resources, leading to less landfill and associated pollution, and reduced carbon emissions via improved recycling rates and decreased methane releases.

Social Toronto aims to increase collaboration amongst community members, social organizations, and the local government to improve knowledge about waste reduction and recycling.

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