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The Value Of Garbage: Greater Waste Diversion Would Boost Ontario's Economy

Less than a quarter of the garbage produced in Ontario is currently diverted from disposal sites through practices such as recycling, composting, and reusing waste material.

More recycling, composting and re-using of waste could support thousands of jobs

Ottawa, May 29, 2014 - Less than a quarter of the garbage produced in Ontario is currently diverted from disposal sites through practices such as recycling, composting, and reusing waste material. A Conference Board of Canada report, released today, estimates that diverting significantly more waste would increase employment and economic activity in the province, while reducing Ontario's dependency on U.S. landfills in Michigan and New York State.

While 47 per cent of residential waste was diverted, only 11 per cent of non-residential waste—produced by the industrial, commercial, and institutional sector—avoided disposal. Non-residential waste accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total amount sent for disposal.


  • While almost half of residential waste in the province is recycled, composted or reused, only 11 per cent of non-residential waste is diverted.
  • Studies indicate that increased waste diversion is a significant economic opportunity for Ontario.
  • If and when Ontario's rate of waste diversion reaches 60 per cent, it would support almost 13,000 jobs and add about $1.5 billion to provincial gross domestic product.
  • Greater waste diversion in Ontario could reduce dependency on U.S. landfills and replace exported jobs with waste diversion jobs in the province.

"Diversion is an increasingly important aspect of solid waste management. Increasing diversion supports a significant number of jobs and economic growth. Furthermore, diversion would support new jobs in Ontario instead of exporting them to U.S. states," said Vijay Gill, Director, Policy Research, and co-author of Opportunities for Ontario's Waste: Economic Impacts of Waste Diversion Programs in North America. "Waste diversion also has the obvious benefits of preserving much-needed landfill capacity."

The research reviews economic impact studies of waste diversion in jurisdictions across North America. The findings from several studies are applied to Ontario, in order to estimate the possible effects of increased waste diversion.

These studies suggest that increasing waste diversion from its current 23 per cent to 60 per cent would — once the 60 per cent-rate is reached (and maintained) — support the equivalent of an additional 12,700 direct and indirect full-time jobs, and add $1.5 billion to provincial gross domestic product. For every 1,000 tonnes of waste diverted, at least two jobs are supported.

The Ontario government has a stated goal of diverting 60 per cent of the waste collected in the province into recycling, reuse and composting.

The research was financially supported by the Ontario Waste Management Association.

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