City extends privatized waste collection agreement without competition ahead of blue box changes


The city of Toronto has quietly extended its residential waste collection contract with the private company Green For Life (GFL), but does not say how much it is spending at this time.The original $ 186 million contract for residential waste collection in District 2 – the area west of Yonge Street to the Humber River – was signed in 2011 and is expected to expire in August 2021. The city confirmed in an email that staff have extended that contract to 2023 without opening it up to competition.

In 2023, the city expects the Ford government’s proposed overhaul of the blue bin program, revealed earlier this week, to begin.

Staff reports suggest that GFL will charge the city more for its services until this happens, and Matt Keliher, the waste department general manager, said officials would seek to recover that money from the provincial government.

“Any increase in costs, including any increase in the Blue Bin collection services provided, will be submitted as part of the annual Blue Box Datacall overseen by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority,” Keliher said in an email.

The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority is the provincial body responsible for overseeing the wind-up of the blue box program, as well as the systems currently in place for municipalities to dispose of hazardous and electronic waste.

Right now the producers pay 50%. 100% of the cost of recycling the waste they generate.

The provincial government’s proposal would make large corporations fully accountable, which it says will save Ontario municipalities $ 135 million a year. A city report suggests the shift to an extended producer responsibility system will mark a “fundamental change” in the way Toronto handles waste and will also affect what homeowners pay.

Mayor John Tory suggested on Wednesday that the eventual changes will save the city some $ 15 million a year and pledged that Toronto will be “on the front lines” when it comes to transitioning to the new program.

Tory called GFL’s extension a “reasonable decision,” suggesting that holding a competition for the company would be a long process that wouldn’t work until the transition.

City of Toronto workers continue to handle garbage collection east of Yonge.

City to set waste collection tariffs in November

For the immediate future, it is unclear at this time how much the GFL deal will add to the waste bills in the years to come. This year’s rate-based budget process (where the board decides which bills you pay) doesn’t begin until November.

Keliher said the city will share the cost of the contract, but cannot at this time as it could affect other unspecified negotiations expected to be concluded in the coming months.

City councilors did not discuss the contract extension with the GFL, but voted in 2019 to give staff the power to make deals like this before the blue box transition.

“Solid waste management services have been and will continue to be transparent by sharing all contract costs,” said Keliher.

CBC Toronto asked GFL for more details, but the company was not available for comment.

Deal comes as GFL battles short-seller

GFL, which is based in Vaughan but has grown across North America in the years since signing its initial agreement with the City of Toronto, was targeted in August by a New York-based short seller. who claimed in a 107-page report that he uses aggressive accounting practices to inflate his balance sheet and hide his debt.

The report also accuses various GFL executives of having connections to potentially criminal activities in previous organizations with which they were involved.

Stock analysts and Patrick Dovigi, founder and CEO of the company, dismissed the allegations. Dovigi, in an email at the time, said the Spruce Point report was a “self-serving attack” on his company that was filled with “malicious innuendo and flawed analysis.”

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CBC News has written a series of articles on the successes and failures of recycling and waste management. You can find more here on our “Rethinking Recycling” page.


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