Is your condo throwing money away... literally?

Controlling maintenance fees and costs is one of the most important functions of a condominium board. One item that all boards can take immediate action on is how much money is spent on throwing away garbage, versus recycling.

Simply put, recycling is free, but garbage costs money.

Known as the Excess Waste Levy, this fee is calculated based on how much garbage is actually thrown away, compared to how much garbage is permitted to be thrown away. In Toronto, the Excess Waste Levy is calculated according to the City’s Waste Diversion Program, which mandates that 70 per cent of all household waste should be diverted to recycling or organics, and only 30 per cent should be garbage destined for the landfill.

For condominium buildings, the permitted cubic yards of garbage are calculated based on household count, and this is tracked by the number of garbage, recycling and organics bins that are picked up on waste collection days. These bins are uniquely coded for each building so the City can issue invoices for excess garbage fees.

For example, in 2016, the Excess Waste Levy was $28.17 per cubic yard and in our building at the time, we were 44 cubic yards over our permitted monthly garbage allowance. So, we were literally throwing away an extra $1,239 per month or $14,873 per year for the building. On a per unit basis, this translated into around 0.5 per cent of monthly maintenance fees… just for garbage.

So, what can condo boards do?

Many new buildings today come with a tri-sorter waste disposal system that diverts waste into the garbage, recycling or organics bins. Ensure your system is kept in good working order, and make sure staff know what to do when the system breaks down.

Audit your residents regularly to make sure everyone has recycling and organics bins, which the City provides for free.

Educate residents on how much money is being thrown away, and what they can do to reduce this cost. Set a reduction target and keep everyone updated on their progress.

Be aware the City of Toronto conducts random audits of condominium buildings to ensure that garbage and recycling are being separated properly. The fine for non-compliance is $50,000. So, recycle properly. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s good for your wallet, too.

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