Solid Waste & Recycling


RCO releases first IC&I waste benchmarking study for Ontario

Released in March 2015, the 2013 RCO data represents 1,012 office and retail properties owned by 17 organizations

mn-que / Free

mn-que / Free

he Recycling Council of Ontario’s (RCO’s) first-of-its-kind Canadian Office and Retail Waste Performance Report aims to give the sector more detailed information than the longstanding 19 per cent diversion rate statistic that may not reflect subsector performance, often making it difficult for organizations to benchmark their performance against peers.

Released in March 2015, the 2013 RCO data represents 1,012 office and retail properties owned by 17 organizations. The data is based on information gathered between April and August 2014, based on bills, diversion reports and audits.

“An impediment to increased diversion and reduced waste generation among Canadian organizations stems in part from an absence of quality data to help inform comparable performance on a national scale,” the RCO study states.

The office and retail buildings generated a combined 402,000 metric tonnes (MT) of waste in 2013, of which 220,000 MT of materials were recycled and reused.

The report states that 282 office buildings achieved a diversion rate of 66.3 per cent; 150 retail centres achieved a diversion rate of 48.6 per cent; and 570 retail stores achieved a diversion rate of 53.7 per cent.

The provinces with the highest diversion rates were:

  • B.C. at 58 per cent
  • Nova Scotia at 57.37 per cent
  • Ontario at 55.74 per cent

The highest recycled material by percentage of responses (number of material diversion programs in place) for office buildings is paper (fibre) at 86 per cent, followed by cardboard at 83 per cent.

The report found that 95 per cent of retail properties have a cardboard recycling program, while 39 per cent divert plastics, and 35 per cent recycle paper (fibre).

The report ventures into the realm of addressing industry challenges faced by property managers. It found:

  • an overall lack of consistency in how waste management services are contracted and audited. Greater transparency needed for how materials are managed, plus costing implications
  • large variance of waste measurement and tracking makes it difficult to compare performance against competitors
  • recycling program participation was listed as the greatest challenge.

RCO recommendations include:

  1. Data sources should continue to include audits, monthly bills, and diversion reports to ensure wide spectrum of participation by office and retail properties.
  2. Include set of mandatory data fields required by all participants to enable comprehensive data analysis such as performance by location and size, as well as material specific performance: a. Location (village / town / city); b. Size of building by Gross Leasable Area (GLA); c. List of all divertible waste streams; d. Diverted materials by weight per material type.
  3. Require per building waste generation, diversion, and disposal information. Exclude submissions of groups of buildings (aggregated) to ensure data can be analyzed to determine average diversion rate.
  4. Set thresholds for year-over-year change in waste generation rate to identify anomalies. Once an anomaly is flagged, the study can follow up with a request for additional information to establish context for high rates of waste reduction or increase from one year to the next.
  5. Maintain a multi-phase study where additional building types from the IC&I sector can participate. This can inform potential improvements in data collection and help set standardized reporting.

Read the full RCO report here

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