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Total waste

Almost 25 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste were disposed in Canada in 2010, down 4% from 2008 but up 3% from 2002 (Chart 1). The total amount of residential waste disposed decreased by 1% between 2008 and 2010 to 9.3 million tonnes, while the disposal of non-residential waste declined by 6% to 15.6 million tonnes.

Provincially, Ontario disposed the most waste at 9.2 million tonnes in 2010, followed by Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia at 5.8, 3.9, and 2.7 million tonnes, respectively (Chart 2). The four provinces that disposed the most waste are also the four provinces with the highest population counts, according to the 2010 Statistics Canada population estimates.

Per capita waste disposal figures provide an additional perspective. On a per capita basis, a total of 729 kg of waste was disposed per person in 2010 (Chart 3). This per capita quantity, which includes both residential and non-residential waste, was down 6% from 2008. The province with the lowest per capita disposal rate in 2010 was Nova Scotia at 389 kg per person. British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Ontario also disposed less waste per capita than the national average. The province with the highest per capita disposal rate was Alberta at 1,052 kg per person. Per capita waste disposal decreased between 2008 and 2010 for all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.

Residential waste

At 37%, slightly more than one third of waste for disposal came from residential sources in 2010. The total disposal of residential waste decreased by 1% between 2008 and 2010 to 9.3 million tonnes. Calculated on a per capita basis, the disposal of residential waste decreased by 3% to 271 kg per person.

Non-residential waste

Nationally, the total amount of non-residential waste fell by 6% to 15.6 million tonnes, while the per capita disposal of non-residential waste declined by 8% to 458 kg per person in 2010. Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario all contributed to the decrease. The amount of non-residential waste exceeded the amount of residential waste disposed in 2010 for all provinces examined. The difference is most notable in Alberta, where 75% of disposed waste came from non-residential sources.

Waste Diversion

The total amount of materials diverted for recycling or composting decreased by 3% from 2008 to approximately 8.1 million tonnes, or 236 kg per person in 2010. This decrease was driven by non-residential diversion, which declined by 11% to 3.6 million tonnes. In contrast, the diversion of residential material increased by 5% to 4.5 million tonnes over the same period of time.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia diverted the most waste by weight from all sources at 2.7, 2.3, and 1.5 million tonnes respectively. At 44%, slightly less than half of the diverted waste in the country came from non-residential sources, down from 48% in 2008.

Paper fibres 1  made up the largest portion of all diverted materials at 40% (3.2 million tonnes), followed by organic materials at 27% (2.2 million tonnes), and metals 2  at 12% (950,410 tonnes). The largest increase from 2008 was in the diversion of electronic materials, which was up 60% to 39,036 tonnes in 2010. There was also a 12% increase in the diversion of metal, a 5% increase in the diversion of plastics (313,036 tonnes), and a 1% increase in the diversion of glass (426,794 tonnes). There were decreases in the amounts of diverted construction, renovation, and demolition materials (down 9%), paper fibres (down 6%), organics (down 5%), and tires (down 4%) between 2008 and 2010.

Waste management industry financial and employment characteristics

Local government sector

Operating revenues

Operating revenues for local governments from the provision of waste management services totalled slightly more than $2.3 billion in 2010 3 .

Current expenditures

At $2.9 billion, or approximately $86 per person, 2010 current expenditures for local governments across Canada increased by 12% from 2008. Collection and transportation costs represent the largest portion of the current expenditures at $1.2 billion, followed by the operation of disposal/processing facilities ($517 million), and tipping fees ($425 million).

The largest increases between 2008 and 2010 were in contributions to landfill post closure and maintenance funds ($93 million; up 60%) and the operation of recycling facilities ($157 million; up 38%). The only category with decreases in current expenditures between 2008 and 2010 was the operation of transfer stations ($146 million; down 13%).

Per capita operating costs differ widely by province (Chart 4). Collection and transportation, which costs local governments approximately $36 per person nationwide represents the largest waste-management per capita costs for most provinces. The only exception is New Brunswick, which spends more money per capita on the operation of its disposal facilities than it does on collection and transportation ($29 per person versus $16 per person). Nova Scotia spends almost equal amounts on collection and transportation as it does on the operation of disposal facilities.

In 2010, local governments spent approximately $15 per person on the operation of disposal facilities, $5 per person on the operation of recycling facilities, and $2 per person on the operation of organics processing facilities. The direction of public funds towards waste diversion varied amongst the provinces. For example, New Brunswick ($13), Nova Scotia ($8), Alberta ($7), and Ontario ($6) all spent more than the national average on the operation of recycling facilities per capita. Nova Scotia ($11) and Ontario ($3) spent more than the national average on the operation of organics processing facilities per capita.

Plotting the per capita amount of diverted waste against the per capita total current expenditures for each province reveals a relationship between money spent by governments and the proportion of waste that is ultimately diverted from disposal (Chart 5).

Local governments in Nova Scotia, Alberta, and British Columbia had higher per capita operating expenditures than the national average of $86 in 2010. British Columbia, Quebec, and Nova Scotia all diverted more waste from disposal than the national average of 236 kilograms per person. Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the two lowest per capita current expenditures as well as the two lowest diversion rates in 2010.

Total capital expenditures on the waste management industry by local governments totalled $537 million in 2010, up by 9% from 2008. Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick all surpassed the national average of $16 per capita in capital expenditures.

Business sector

Operating revenues

Operating revenues for businesses in the waste management industry in Canada totalled almost $6.0 billion in 2010, up 2% from 2008. The provinces with the largest operating revenues were Ontario at $2.4 billion, Quebec at $1.1 billion and Alberta at $1.0 billion. The highest growth in revenues occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador (18%) and Saskatchewan (9%).

Operating expenditures

Gross operating expenditures for waste management firms in the business sector in Canada fell 3% between 2008 and 2010 to approximately $5.0 billion nationally. New Brunswick (-6%), Ontario (-6%), Alberta (-5%), Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (-5%), and Manitoba (-3%) all contributed to this decline. The remaining provinces experienced an increase in gross operating expenditures during the same time period.

Capital expenditures, which tend to vary significantly from year-to-year, fell 19% between 2008 and 2010 to $335 million. The largest increase in capital spending was in Quebec (up 67% to $77 million), while the largest decrease was in Alberta (down 53% to $67 million).

Employment, local government and business sectors

The number of full-time workers in the waste management industry, including both the government and business sectors totalled just over 32,000 in 2010, an increase of 2% from 2008. Approximately 80% of the full-time workers are employed in the business sector. Full-time employment in the waste management industry rose by 5% in the government sector and 2% in the business sector. The number of part-time jobs in both sectors increased by 9% to nearly 3,000 employees, in total. The numbers of part-time employees in the government and business sectors are approximately equal.

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