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Solid waste: Managing our garbage

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Because nearly every aspect of our lives generates some form of garbage, managing our waste is a challenge. In 2004, municipalities and businesses that provided waste management services handled a total of 33.2 million tonnes of non-hazardous solid waste in Canada, 8% more than in 2002. That is four times the 2% growth rate of Canada’s population over the same period.

Industrial, commercial and institutional sources—as well as construction, renovation and demolition projects—accounted for 15.5 million tonnes, 61% of the non-hazardous waste that was not recycled. Household sources accounted for 39%. Canadian households disposed of 9.8 million tonnes of waste—that is 306 kg per capita and 1.6% more per capita than in 2002.

Ontario and Quebec, with 62% of Canada’s population, accounted for 66% of the residential waste generated nationwide in 2004. By weight, our residential waste consists mainly of organic materials from kitchens and yards. Newspapers and other paper fibres account for the second highest portion.

More and more household wastes are being recycled. About 27% of residential waste was diverted away from landfill sites and incinerators in 2004, an increase of four percentage points from 2002. In 2004, 7.9 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste were recycled. Non-residential sources accounted for 54% of the materials prepared for recycling; households accounted for 46%.

Centralized facilities across the country composted 1.7 million tonnes of organic wastes in 2004. This amount excludes backyard composting and on-site composting by industry.