Highlights

Human Activity and the Environment 2012: Waste management in Canada gathers together a variety of statistics describing the generation and management of different types of waste. The report starts with an overview of waste generation in Canada. The remaining sections cover solid waste, wastewater discharges, and air emissions in greater detail.

Solid waste

  1. From 2002 to 2008, municipal solid waste disposal increased slightly from 769 kilograms to 777 kilograms per capita. During the same time period, solid waste diversion increased from 212 kilograms to 254 kilograms per capita.
  2. The average diversion rate—the amount of waste diverted as a proportion of waste generated—has increased from 22% in 2002 to 25% in 2008.
  3. By weight, organic materials accounted for the largest proportion of waste diversion in 2008, with 2,439,223 tonnes diverted, 29% of total waste diversion, followed by cardboard and boxboard (17%) and newsprint (13%).
  4. Of the 58% of households that had batteries to dispose of in 2009, 42% discarded them in the garbage.
  5. From 2001 to 2008, waste generation from mining activities increased by 55%.

Wastewater discharges

  1. In 2009, 82% of households lived in dwellings connected to municipal sewer systems, while 13% used private septic systems and 1% used communal septic systems.
  2. Wastewater discharge for manufacturing, mineral extraction (excluding oil and gas extraction) and thermal-electric power generation was 29.9 billion cubic metres in 2009.
  3. Industrial wastewater treatment and discharge costs were $532.2 million, approximately 37% of total industrial water costs in 2009.

Air emissions

  1. In 2009, criteria air contaminants made up nearly 99% of air pollutants emitted by industrial facilities according to the National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  2. From 1985 to 2009, emissions of sulphur oxides decreased 60%, emissions of carbon monoxide decreased 43% and emissions of nitrogen oxides decreased 18%.
  3. In 2008, the majority of capital investments for pollution prevention and abatement and control were targeted at the prevention or reduction of air pollutants. Almost $1.4 billion was invested in pollution abatement and control processes and technologies to reduce air emissions, while capital expenditures on pollution prevention processes and technologies totalled $422.2 million.
  4. Canada's greenhouse gas emissions reached 690 megatonnes in 2009, a 17% increase since 1990.
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