Solid Waste & Recycling


StatsCan data shows environment business is a large industry of small players

Statistics Canada released the results of its 2002 Environment Industry survey on September 21. Small and medium-si...

Statistics Canada released the results of its 2002 Environment Industry survey on September 21. Small and medium-sized establishments dominate the industry. By Canadian definition small establishments have less than 100 employees, medium have 100-499 employees and large have 500 or more.

Small businesses represent 93 per cent (7,397) of the environment industry’s total establishments and earned $8.5 billion or 54 per cent of the industry’s 2002 total revenues ($15.8 billion). Of the $6.6 billion worth of environmental goods sold in 2002, small business generated $4.2 billion and medium sized $2.1 billion. Services revenue totalled nearly $7 billion.

In environment-related construction, totalling $2.1 billion, small business at $416.3 million was outranked by medium business at $920.0 million. Small business was also much less involved in exports. Of the total environmental exports in the industry of $1.4 billion, small business generated $163.5 million and medium business $594.9 million.

Small business accounts for 69,684 employees and medium business 56,237 of the industry’s total employment of 159,720 in 2002. There are an estimated 7,967 establishments, not including engineering construction firms.

For the industry as a whole, waste services generated $5.1 billion or 72 per cent of the industry’s annual revenue. Firms in the industry raise revenue from other sources as well; in 2002 their revenue from the environment sector was 54 per cent of their total revenues. Services at 44 per cent of total industry revenue represented a slighter higher proportion than goods at 42 per cent.

About 55 per cent of the goods revenue or $3.6 billion was due to sale of recyclable materials. Sale of technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gases generated $364 million with alternate fuel technologies including fuel cells accounting for $118 million of this and solar and wind for $112 million.

Ontario with $6.9 billion and Quebec at $3.1 billion represent the bulk of the sector’s revenue. Alberta is third at $2.3 billion and British Columbia fourth at $1.9 billion. Environmental-related construction generated $2.2 billion.

The definition of environmental goods and services used in the report is “goods and services that are used, or can potentially be used to, measure, prevent, limit or correct environmental damage (both natural or by human activity) to water, air, soil as well as problems related to waste, noise and ecosystems.” This includes technologies used to reduce resource use, energy, emissions and waste. Key to the definition is the end-use of the goods and services for environmental purposes.

The industry does not have a classification of its own in Statistics Canada’s system but rather firms are classified under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). At one time NAICS grouped environmental-related activities under such headings as Other Utilities or Other Waste Materials, Wholesale but now some separate classifications highlighting the environmental-related activities have been made such as Waste Management and Remediation Services, Recyclable Material Wholesalers and more recently, Environmental Consulting Services Industry. GL believes this to be a big step forward for the environment industry; for years it has been a frustration for our environmental management consulting firm to be hidden away in Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade listings as Other Business Services.

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