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The City of Toronto acquired the Green Lane Landfill (GLL) in 2007 to secure a long term waste disposal site. The latter was destined to be used before or after the City’s Michigan landfill disposal contract expires in 2010. The GLL is located near London, Ontario, and has a total disposal area of 176 acres.

The City’s waste disposal rate is around 680,000 tonnes per year of which 76% is derived from residential sources, 19% from industrial and commercial sources and the remain 5% from municipal sewage sludge, road construction and non-hazardous contaminated soil.

Capacity of 16750000 cubic meters


The GLL has an approved capacity of 16,750,000 cubic meters (m3) of which around 11.5 million m3 remain available as of the end of December of 2013. If the City continues with the same diversion rate of 52%, the GLL will reach their approved landfill capacity by 2026.

In 2014, a total of 423,817 tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill through different programs such as: Blue Bin recycling, Green Bin organics, leaf/yard waste and Christmas trees, backyard composting, Community Environment Days, household hazardous waste depots, grass cycling, large appliance/scrap metal and electronic waste pick-up. The extension of the site life will depend on both the City’s waste diversion initiatives and the public participation.



In 2009, a study was conducted by the City to evaluate the best possible technology and site for Toronto to process its mixed waste. The study considered a planning period from 2010 to 2035.

Seven categories of mixed waste diversion technology were considered and evaluated as potential options to process Toronto’s residual waste. They could potentially provide an estimated 75,000 tonnes of diversion per year. The technologies considered were: mechanical separation for material recovery, mechanical biological treatment (MBT) with compost-like output (CLO) diverted, MBT with CLO produced going to landfill, MBT with CLO diverted and refuse-derived fuel (RDF) production, mechanical separation with RDF production, thermal treatment with energy production and steam classification process.

The screening criteria that were established to evaluate each technology were as follow:

  • Ability to divert 75,000 tonnes per year from landfill;
  • Ability to conform to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Waste Value Chain Chart;
  • Ability to market recovered materials;
  • Ability for markets to meet Ontario’s environmental standards;
  • Ability to dispose of the residual material in the GLL in accordance with its Certificate of Approvals;
  • Proven operating history of the Technology;
  • Ability to have the facility under construction by 2010.


A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) was performed to evaluate the environmental impacts of treating and disposing mixed solid waste.


A LCA determines the type, amount and environmental impact of the resources used as well as the emissions produced and released into the environment. A Pre-Screening of the Determinants of Health was used as a decision tool developed to narrow the number of mixed waste processing technologies and site options within the Health Impact Assessment.



The recommended technology selected – which satisfied all of the screening requirements – was MBT with Aerobic Composting or Anaerobic Digestion.

Recommended technology

The MBT with Aerobic Composting involves the removal of recyclable materials while reducing the biodegradability of the waste.

The MBT with aerobic composting process involves:

  • Preprocessing (removal of large objects, size separation, recovery of recyclables);
  • Active composting in a controlled aerobic process;
  • Controlled Aeration and moisture to promote decomposition;
  • Material curing for further maturation;
  • Possible screening of compost product to remove oversize materials.

The MBT with Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and aerobic final curing is a process of biologically degrading materials in the absence of oxygen. The AD process produces a biogas which is rich in methane and can be used to generate energy. It also produces a liquid and solid material similar to compost called digestate. The solid digestate requires aerobic composting to be able to break down the cellulose component.

The MBT with AD process typically includes the following stages:

  • Preprocessing (removal of large objects, size separation, recovery of recyclables);
  • Digestion (conversion of organic material by fermentation into biogas and digestate);
  • Energy Production (the biogas can be used to produce energy);
  • Composting the solid digestate.

Final curing (composting) of the solid digestate takes place aerobically in outdoor windrows.


In the aerobic composting option, there is an energy recovery component through a bioreactor. In MBT with anaerobic digestion the active decomposition of organic materials takes place in-vessel and includes active methane production and capture. With AD technology, most of the emissions are captured in the biogas, however there are possible emissions of odours, airborne allergens, and carbon dioxide from the biostabilization process. These emissions can be reduced by discharging air through a biofilter.


Depending on the technology used and the composition of the incoming mixed waste, which will change over the lifespan of the processing facility, either of these technologies are expected to divert approximately 67% of the incoming mixed wastes. In order to divert 75,000 tonnes per year, a mixed waste feedstock of approximately 120,000 tonnes per year is required to be processed at the mixed waste facility. The total property requirement, for an MBT aerobic or anaerobic processing facility, is expected to be between 13 to 17 hectares, including approximately 4.5 to 5.5 hectares for final curing of the CLO.



The City of Toronto is currently producing enough waste feedstock to consider implementing an energy-from-waste technology.

If the residual waste generation at the City continues at the same rates, the GLL will run out of capacity in 11 years. Therefore, considering the duration of the environmental assessment and approval process, the City is starting to contemplate different alternatives as part of the long-term waste management strategy.

The Durham York Energy Centre is a typical example of post-recycling residual waste stream that could be suitable for the City of Toronto.

Durham York Energy Centre

The Durham York Energy Centre processes 140,000 tonnes per year of residential garbage, with a mature source-separated recycling and source-separated organic collection and processing system.

The recovery of energy from solid wastes offers several benefits, which include:

  • Substantial reduction in the total quantity of waste depending on the waste composition and the adopted technology.
  • Significant reduction in environmental pollution.
  • Reduction in the demand of land for waste disposal.
  • Improved commercial viability of the waste disposal project from the sale of energy/products.

The City has a diversion target of 70%, which will allow to extend the GLL site life by 8 years and is currently working towards assessing several alternatives for the residual waste disposal’s long-term plan.



City of Toronto Solid Waste Management Services website.

Golder Associates. Planning Study for the Assessment of Mixed Solid Waste Processing Technology and Siting Options, City of Toronto. May 2009.

WSP Canada Inc. 2013 Annual Progress Report Green Lane Landfill January 2013 – December 2013.

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