Solid Waste Disposal and Diversion

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From 2002 to 2012, the total amount of solid wasteFootnote [1] disposed and diverted in Canada grew from 30.7 to 33.5 million tonnes, with a peak of 34.3 million tonnes in 2008.

While the residential sector is the dominant source of the growth in total annual solid waste generated from 2002 to 2012, an increasing share of residential waste is being diverted. On a per capita basis, residential waste diversion increased by 51%, while residential waste disposal increased by 2%. Diversion of non-residential waste remained relatively stable over this period.

Solid waste disposal and diversion, Canada, 2002 to 2012

Column chart

Long description

The stacked column chart presents biennial data, for the period from 2002 to 2012, on the amount of solid waste disposed and diverted from residential and non-residential sources in million tonnes. The chart shows that the total amount of waste disposed and diverted peaked in 2008.

Data for this chart
Solid waste disposal and diversion, Canada, 2002 to 2012
YearWaste diverted from residential sources
(million tonnes)
Waste diverted from non-residential sources
(million tonnes)
Waste disposed from residential sources
(million tonnes)
Waste disposed from non-residential sources
(million tonnes)
Waste diverted from residential sources
(kilograms per capita)
Waste disposed from residential sources
(kilograms per capita)
20022.83.98.415.689269
20043.43.79.016.3105281
20063.73.99.716.7114299
20084.34.09.416.6129281
20104.53.69.515.5133278
20124.73.89.615.4134276

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.17 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Source: Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0041 – Disposal of waste, by source, Canada, provinces and territories, every 2 years (tonnes). Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0042 – Materials diverted, by source, Canada, provinces and territories, every 2 years (tonnes).

In Canada, the responsibility for managing non-hazardous solid waste and reducing the amount of waste sent for disposal is shared among the provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Waste in landfills can contribute to environmental impacts such as air emissions, land disturbance and water pollution. These impacts occur both during and after the lifetime of the landfill site. Waste can be diverted from landfills by activities such as recycling or composting. These have the added benefit of also helping to conserve natural resources. Also, the use and processing of recycled waste often requires less energy and produces less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions compared to raw material extraction and processing.

Solid waste diversion rate by source

Between 2002 and 2012, the share of solid waste being diverted from disposal increased from 21.6% to 25.2% of the total waste generated. This increase was attributed to higher diversion from residential sources,Footnote [2] which increased from 24.8% to 32.7% over the period. The share of waste diverted from non-residentialFootnote [3] sources was relatively stable during this time.

Solid waste diversion rate by source, Canada, 2002 to 2012

Line chart

Long description

The line chart shows the total solid waste diversion rate from all sources and the rate of waste diversion from residential and non-residential sources, biennially, for the period from 2002 to 2012. It shows that the diversion rate increased every year for residential sources and that it is higher than non-residential sources.

Data for this chart
Solid waste diversion rate by source, Canada, 2002 to 2012
YearResidential sources diversion rate
(percentage of waste being diverted)
Non-residential sources diversion rate
(percentage of waste being diverted)
All sources diversion rate
(percentage of waste being diverted)
200224.819.821.6
200427.318.722.0
200627.619.022.4
200831.519.524.3
201032.318.724.4
201232.719.725.2

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How this indicator was calculated

Source: Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0041 – Disposal of waste, by source, Canada, provinces and territories, every 2 years (tonnes). Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0042 – Materials diverted, by source, Canada, provinces and territories, every 2 years (tonnes).

Solid waste diversion by type of material

Paper products are the most common type of material diverted for recycling. However, the increase in the total amount of solid waste being diverted between 2002 and 2012 was largely due to an increase in the diversion of organic materials.Footnote [4]

Solid waste diversion by type of material, Canada, 2002 to 2012

Stacked area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows the amount of solid waste being diverted, by type, biennially, for the period from 2002 to 2012. The chart includes data for the following types of material: other materials, plastics, household appliances, glass, metals, construction, renovation and demolition, organic materials and paper. Paper represents the largest share of diverted material throughout the period. The volume of diverted paper, organic materials, glass, household appliances and plastics increased during the period (with the volume of plastics diverted more than doubling).

Data for this chart
Solid waste diversion by type of material, Canada, 2002 to 2012
Type of material2002
(million tonnes)
2004
(million tonnes)
2006
(million tonnes)
2008
(million tonnes)
2010
(million tonnes)
2012
(million tonnes)
Other materials0.250.310.200.250.270.31
Plastics0.140.190.230.300.310.32
Household appliancesn.a.0.240.300.310.330.33
Glass0.330.400.380.420.430.41
Metals0.850.480.480.540.620.63
Construction, renovation and demolition0.650.850.720.720.650.64
Organic materials1.311.521.912.332.212.45
Paper3.113.133.423.443.253.36

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: n.a.: not available. Other materials include electronics, tires and other unclassified materials.
Source: Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0043 – Materials diverted, by type, Canada, provinces and territories, every 2 years (tonnes).

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