Solid Waste & Recycling


Where is Waste Diversion Going?

It has been a busy three months and I have been remiss in blogging. The day to day rigours of work and life get in the way and this unfortunately becomes expendable.
I had a great opportunity, along with Michael Cant from Golder Associates, to present some of our ideas on the State of Waste in Ontario, at the recent Municipal Waste Association (MWA- Or as I like to affectionately like refer to them-Municipalities with Attitude) conference in Hockley Valley Ontario (see my Real Green Blog at for a copy of the talk).
The MWA was celebrating its 25th anniversary and conference. They embody the grass roots environmentalism and waste diversion practiced by the public sector. They have been trying to move waste diversion forward since their inception. (They also put on a good conference)
Our talk, which included an assessment of the last 15 years of Stats Canada waste management data, painted a grim picture. Overall waste diversion has remained unchanged since 1996.
This could be cause for pessimism and in some regards it is a bit disheartening. All of this effort and here we are in the same place. However, there is more to the story.
What the data analysis showed is that over the years residential waste diversion has continued to increase at a steady pace- and that is part of MWA’s mandate.
Ontario’s residential waste diversion rate is at about 38% but it’s IC&I waste diversion is at 13% and falling.
The downside is that we have really focussed about 90% of our waste diversion efforts on 35% of the waste stream (i.e. residential waste stream and really about 25% if you consider that most efforts have focussed on single family households).
We have completely missed the boat on effectively tackling IC&I waste generation and diversion (in Ontario but also across the country) notwithstanding the efforts of many IC&I facilities working to improve waste management performance.
However, the IC&I, especially the private sector parts, largely gravitate to the solution that costs the least, which invariably is landfilling. If increasing diversion is important, and maybe it isn’t, somehow the economic landscape needs to be changed and tilted in favour of diversion. It is clear that natural market forces have not and quite frankly will not accomplish this.
So while we can celebrate our residential successes we need to continue building on those but really put some effort into the management of IC&I wastes.
These ideas will get a much more detailed treatment in our upcoming State of Waste in Canada article that is being written and will soon be published.

Print this page

Related Posts

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *