Canada continues its struggle to make inroads with industrial waste diversion, according to a new Statistics Canada (Stat Can) report that revealed the first hiccup in the country’s waste diversion levels since 2002.
Despite the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector generating six per cent less waste between 2008 and 2010, Stat Can’s 2010 Waste Management Industry Survey: Business and Government Sectors stated that the sector had an 11 per cent decrease in the amount of waste they diverted for composting and recycling over that same period.
The IC&I sector’s waste diversion decline contributed to a three per cent drop in Canada’s overall diversion rate, despite a five per cent increase in the residential category’s waste diversion progress, Stat Can found.
The difference between the residential and IC&I sectors is most apparent in Alberta, where 75 per cent of disposed waste came from IC&I sources.
In 2010, Canada diverted 8.1 million tonnes of waste, or 236 kilograms per person out of 25 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste.
Between 2008 and 2010, the amount of waste sent for disposal increased in Newfoundland and Labrador (plus four per cent), Nova Scotia (plus four per cent), Saskatchewan (plus four per cent), and Manitoba (plus one per cent).
Quebec and Alberta, however, reported the largest declines in waste generation, both with a six per cent drop over 2008 to 2010.
On a per capita basis, Stat Can found that Alberta sent the most waste for disposal in 2010 — the equivalent of just under 1.1 tonnes per person. Conversely, Nova Scotia sent 389 kilograms per person for disposal.
The most positive statistic from the new survey is arguably the marked increase in electronic waste recycling, which has been rapidly expanding across Canada. This new industry saw the biggest increase (plus 60 per cent) of any stat, followed by metals recycling (plus 12 per cent).
The waste management sector continues to be big business, according to the new Stat Can data. There are some 32,000 Canadians employed in the waste sector, both public and private.
Local governments spent about $2.9 billion on waste management in 2010, up 12 per cent over 2008. Stat Can found the largest increase in funds allocated for maintaining landfills after they close.
In the private sector, revenues rose two per cent from 2008 to $6 billion in 2010. Waste management firms also spent three per cent less on their operations for a total of $5 billion, according to Stat Can.