The State of Practice of Organic Waste Management and Collection in Canada

Background & Objectives

The primary objective of this effort is to compile information to summarize the generation and management of organic waste in Canada in a meaningful way to inform solid waste decision-making.

The diversion of organic municipal waste materials (i.e. food waste, green waste) through options such as composting and anaerobic digestion (AD) has been a growing focus throughout Canada.

Initiatives are largely focused at the provincial or municipal level through waste-related sustainability policies. As policies and collection programs become more widespread, it is important to have accurate information regarding the amount and types of organic waste generated as well as the infrastructure available for managing it.

The organization Statistics Canada estimates municipal solid waste generation and diversion on a biannual basis, with most recent statistics from 2016 indicating roughly 24.9 million tonnes of total waste generated. Statistics Canada results for residential waste indicate 15 million tonnes were generated in the residential sector in 2014. Of this, 4.8 million tonnes (32%) were diverted (e.g. recycling, composting) from landfill disposal. The accuracy of these diversion estimates, derived from industry survey, could be improved through a detailed facility-based accounting of waste management.

The extent to which provinces track and report waste-related data is varied, which presents challenges to aggregating nationwide statistics on organics recovery infrastructure, program available, participation, and recovered tonnage. This limitation has led to criticism that existing data on organics waste management is perhaps incomplete, inaccurate, or is not in a standardized form allowing for consistent reporting of metrics. As such, a need exists for meaningful apples-to-apples statistics on organic waste management throughout Canada. Additionally, such an effort can identify and fill in data gaps or replace data deemed less accurate with more useful information.

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Scope of Work

Literature Review
A literature review will be conducted to identify recent scientific studies, national and provincial datasets and policies, NGO and corporate analysis, facility/infrastructure projects, industry news reports, and similar resources related to organics management across Canada.

Inventory of Policies Impacting Organics Recovery
Various policy options exist for targeting organic waste diversion, including: landfill bans, diversion targets, and service requirements.

Additionally, policies and targets related to renewable energy production can impact organics management through both anaerobic digestion and landfill gas-to-energy projects. Further, GHG reduction targets and action plans can target organics waste management as a piece of implementation strategy. As part of this effort, relevant national, provincial, and municipal policies will be identified and compiled to summarize the policy landscape as it pertains to recovery of organic wastes.

Analysis of Program Availability
To better understand the types of organics diversion programs and services available to Canadians, information will be compiled for municipalities, administrative districts, and similar (e.g, RCM/MRC in Quebec) regarding the types of programs (ie.e yard waste, food waste, SSO) and level of service (i.e. universal curbside, subscription, drop-off) available to single-family and/or multi-family residents. 

Assessment of Infrastructure and Tonnage
The information and sources identified during the literature review, as well as data obtained via facility contact, will be used to identify facilities managing organic waste in Canada (i.e. composting operations, anaerobic digesters), and summarize key national and regional statistics such as:
* types of facilities (i.e. windrow, static-pile, anaerobic digestion)
* types of waste managed
* amount of waste managed (i.e. tonnage, volume)
* facility capacity

Residential Accessibility and Maps of Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Facilities 


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island