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Envirostats: Waste in Canada, 2002 to 2013

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Released: 2016-05-24

Canadian households produced 14.3 million tonnes of waste in 2012, up 27% from 2002. The share of diverted waste rose from 25% to 33% over the same period, as larger amounts of electronic waste were diverted.

From 2008 to 2012, the amount of diverted electronic waste nearly tripled from just over 24 000 tonnes to slightly more than 71 000 tonnes, partly as a result of an increase in the number of programs that take back electronic products.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Residential waste disposal to landfill/incinerator and diversion, 2002 to 2012
Residential waste disposal to landfill/incinerator and diversion, 2002 to 2012

In 2013, 3.6 million households (26% of households in Canada) reported having at least one unwanted television. Just over half of these households reported that they took or sent these televisions to an e-waste depot, while 19% donated or gave them away, and 17% had not disposed of them at the time of the interview.

Canadian households owned about 10.4 million VCRs in 2007. This number had dropped to about 5.4 million in 2011, meaning that about 5 million VCRs were disposed of during that time. In 2011 and 2013, about half of the households that had unwanted audio-visual equipment (which includes VCRs, DVD players, speakers and portable digital music players) reported that they took the unwanted items to a depot or drop-off centre.

In 2011, 78% of all households in Canada owned at least one computer. In 2013, 24% of households (about 3.4 million households) reported having an unwanted computer. Drop-off centres or depots (53%) were the most commonly reported method of disposal.

In 2013, 85% of households had at least one cell phone in Canada, and 2.9 million households reported having an unwanted cell phone. Of these, just under one-quarter sent their unwanted cell phones to a depot, 18% returned them to a retailers, and about 5% disposed of them in the garbage.

  Note to readers

The study, "Trash talking: Dealing with Canadian household e-waste, 2002 to 2013," presents statistics on the amount of residential waste produced in Canada, with a focus on how household electronic waste is handled. Diverting unwanted electronic goods from landfills and incinerators prevents the toxic materials that are present in most modern electronic devices from being released into the environment.

The study is based on data from the Households and the Environment Survey, conducted in 1991, 1994, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013, under the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators initiative, and on data from the Waste Management Industry Survey: Business and Government Sectors, conducted from 2002 to 2012.


The article, "Trash talking: Dealing with Canadian household e-waste, 2002 to 2013," is now available in EnviroStats, Vol. 10, no. 1 (Catalogue number16-002-X), from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.

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