The technological model or bringing the incinerator back in

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Given the extreme challenges of fiscal and economic realities in a neoliberal regulatory environment, progressive urban ecological initiatives and policies can easily be contextualized as unintended overall reorganization of socio-ecological relationships that they can be turned on their head. The tremendous successes of more progressive environmental policies are now running up against the material and discursive limits of reform. This is most clearly expressed in the area of waste. While the City introduced so-called Green Bins citywide in order to capture the socalled wet waste of households, it is struggling to find solutions to the continuingly growing mountain of common household waste, which escapes recycling and is being shipped by caravans of trucks along a more than 400 km long road to Michigan. As ecological modernization has gripped the material streams and waste habits of all Torontonians, it remains unclear whether the spirit of reduction can outlast the nagging aggressiveness of the proponents of more conventional methods of waste management and of technologically advanced forms of incineration.2 Waste streams have reached an impasse as old dumps are closing, new ones are not available, shipment of waste runs into public opposition along the trucks' route and in the recipient location; on one hand, this has led to sophisticated new waste diversion strategies, which also rely on compliance within households throughout the city. The city has a plan for 100 percent waste diversion by 2010. The Waste Diversion Task Force 2010, comprised of the entire Toronto City Council, was charged with "finding a "Made in Toronto" solution for waste diversion from landfill" (City of Toronto 2001a). After public consultation a report to that effect was released and the new policy was passed in 2001 (City of Toronto 2001a). On the other hand, given the enormous pressure on the municipality due to huge waste output, less benign and more conventional technology-based proposals are back. Among them is the renewed call for incineration. At the last City Council meeting before the latest municipal election in 2003, an environmental assessment for a pilot program was improved for new and emerging technologies like gasification, etc., which is just another term for incineration (New Tech Waste 9/03).3

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