Municipal solid waste: statistics and trends

The Aspirational Canada-wide Waste Reduction Goal and the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste (Phase 1 and Phase 2) are examples of Canada's commitment to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste sent to landfill.

In order to fulfill its goal of protecting Canadians and their environment from the effects of pollution and waste, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), in partnership with other government departments, collects and analyzes data on municipal solid waste management in Canada.

Data collected from the waste management industry and from municipalities helps track our progress in reducing certain waste streams and better managing others.

The following reports compile information on the composition and quantity of Canadian municipal solid waste.

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) - Solid waste diversion and disposal - The most recent CESI indicator for solid waste diversion and disposal is based on the 2020 Statistics Canada data.

National Waste Characterization Study - In 2019, ECCC compiled information on the composition of Canada's municipal solid waste. Using data collected by municipalities and provinces, the report provides a snapshot of what kinds of materials are in the waste sent to landfills in Canada.

National average composition of residual waste by percentage (2016)

Source: National Waste Characterization Study, 2020
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National average composition of residual waste by percentage (2016)

Food Paper Wood Diapers & Pet Waste Yard & Garden Textiles (degradable) Rubber and Leather Other Organics Plastics Building Material Metals Glass Total Other (including Electronics, Household Hazardous, Bulky Objects)
Percentage in Residual MSW (%) 23% 11% 10% 6% 4% 1% 1% 7% 13% 9% 3% 2% 9%
Degradable, 64% Non-Degradable, 36%

Source: National Waste Characterization Study, 2020

Statistics Canada’s Waste Management Surveys – Surveys conducted by Statistics Canada collect data from companies and municipalities that manage municipal solid waste in Canada.  

State of Waste Management in Canada – This study was completed in 2014 for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). It provides an overview of the waste system and the policies and programs in place in provinces and territories to manage Canada’s waste.

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