Solid Waste & Recycling


Our Landmark Industry Study

Our parent company (Hollinger) recently received funds from Heritage Canada in support of magazine publishing. Sheila Copps' department decided to directly assist Canadian magazines after it lost a pr...

Our parent company (Hollinger) recently received funds from Heritage Canada in support of magazine publishing. Sheila Copps’ department decided to directly assist Canadian magazines after it lost a protracted battle over perceived risks to domestic periodicals from foreign competitors.

Today, half the Canadian market is dominated by U.S. titles. This is not something that bothers us as long as the competition is fair. The Canadian government has helped the industry by creating tax deductions for companies that advertise in Canadian magazines. (How’s that for a shameless plug?) In 1965 it attempted to prohibit by way of tariff so-called “split-run” versions of American magazines. In these, U.S. periodicals strip out some or all of the U.S. ads and sell the space to Canadian companies at cut-rate prices (since the editorial content has already been paid for). Critics say it’s a cultural version of below-cost “dumping” akin to steel or wooden shakes and shingles.

In 1995 the federal government decided to punish Sports Illustrated for bending Canada’s rules against split-runs. This prompted the U.S. to appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) amid an outcry against Canada’s “protectionist” policies. (Although cultural industries are specifically excluded from the NAFTA.) Sports Illustrated had used satellites to transmit its editorial content into Canada where it was re-printed and sold as “Canadian,” thus bypassing the tariff. Canada lost at the WTO and the threat of American split-runs has hung like a Sword of Damocles over the industry ever since.

Those of you who’ve read this page over the years know that we’re no fans of subsidies. Our owner accepted the funds and we had no choice but to accept our portion. However, to assuage our guilt we decided to invest the money in something with a greater public interest than a mere audience measurement survey. We hired the top-notch market research team at Environics International to conduct an in-depth study of the waste management industry in Canada and also, as a separate project, the environmental protection industry for our sister publication Hazardous Materials Management.

Our objective is to understand the Canadian waste and recycling market and associated trends. In Phase One the Environics team examined all readily available sources of existing information on the solid, hazardous and recycling waste industries. Phase Two is comprised of a readership survey that will help us update and fill in some of the gaps from the literature search (see bottom of this page for details on participating).

They dug into national and provincial databases, reports and articles. We consulted and interviewed project engineers, environmental specialists, trade commissioners and others. The research team utilized proprietary Internet software that searches for specific types of information using unique grammatical structures and concepts — a far more powerful search tool than the simple keywords used by normal Web browsers and “spiders.”

In their draft report the researchers state that “current, comprehensive and accurate information on the solid and hazardous waste sectors in Canada is both scarce and fragmented.” They acknowledge that the environmental services and solid waste industries are dynamically affected by fluctuations in the economy, legislative revisions and environmental incidents — so predicting trends is difficult. Yet their report is the most concise yet thorough description of the waste and environmental industries in Canada ever produced.

1998 was the most recent year for which robust data was available for analysis. In that year over 29 million tonnes of solid non-hazardous waste was generated in Canada and managed off-site. A third of this came from residential sources and the remainder from such sources as industrial, commercial and institutional generators, plus construction and demolition projects.

Landfill remains by far the main destination for Canadian solid waste sent for disposal. Approximately 90 to 95 per cent is sent there. In 1998 nearly 21 million tonnes of waste was disposed of in 767 public and privately-owned and/or operated landfills, and in 45 incinerators across the country. In that year close to 9 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste were diverted from disposal through recycling, composting or reuse programs. Again, one third of this was generated by residential sources and the remainder was IC&I and C&D sources.

All provinces have some form of recycling programs and services, including for beverage container recycling, paper and plastics, used oil, soil, or for scrap tire recycling. Some of these programs, such as for residential paper and cans, are municipal services, while others, such as scrap tire recycling, are managed through an industry stewardship program. Determining the total value of these different recycling programs is difficult. For example, the scrap tire recycling program across Canada paid processors close to $30-million in 2000. However, the revenues associated with sales of recycled tire products remain unknown, mainly because the private sector is unwilling to share its revenue figures with the public.

The full report offers some analysis and perspective for these kinds of numbers and will be of tremendous value to anyone interested in (or responsible for) solid waste disposal, recycling, composting and so on. We invite everyone to participate in the current survey so that we can update this information and refine it further.

NOTE: In order to encourage you to participate in our survey, we will send the executive summary of our final research report for FREE to all those who participate. Just fill in the answers on page 24 or at

Guy Crittenden is editor-in-chief of this magazine. Send your letters to:

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