The act of reprocessing our waste can conserve energy and natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. As humankind becomes more aware of the benefits of recycling, we’re learning how to help repair nature and heal our planet. But is Canada doing all that it can?
Check out our list of recycling statistics to find out! You’ll learn just how much Canadians recycle and if they could be doing more.
Top 10 Recycling Statistics for 2021
- China produces the most plastic materials by region.
- Canada regularly ships plastic overseas for recycling.
- Canadians throw out around 3.3 million tonnes of plastic each year.
- Canada’s landfill problem may be more significant than it seems.
- Over 2 million tonnes of plastic end up in landfills.
- Thunder Bay intends to scale up its recycling program in 2021.
- Ontario made recycling mandatory for many of its businesses.
- Mechanical recycling is prevalent in Canada.
- All Canadians can recycle their boxes.
- Paper packaging is the material recycled most in Canada.
General Recycling Facts
Are you curious about which type of waste is recyclable? In the next section, you’ll find out which materials can be recycled, which region produces the most plastic, and much more. Pull up your most comfy chair, and let’s do this!
1. China produces the most plastic materials by region.
According to stats from 2019, China is the region that produced 31% of the world’s plastic materials. They averaged between six and eight million metric tonnes per month.
NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement), which includes Canada, the USA, and Mexico, produced 19%, making it the second most plastic producing region.
2. Aluminum has the highest end-of-life recycling rate of battery metals.
Different materials have different recycling rates. Out of all the battery metals, aluminum has the highest recycling rate (70%). Lithium ranks the lowest with 1%, while cobalt has a 68% recycling rate. Nickel and copper have rates of 63% and 53%, respectively.
3. It’s possible to recycle everything from car bumpers to comic books.
Most of us don’t consider recycling to be our job or our problem. However, this is due mainly to our ignorance and from the lack of proper recycling information.
Many things that we use in our daily lives can be recycled. Some of these products include paper towels, trash bags, carpeting, and cereal boxes. You can also separate your waste, such as glass, egg cartons, and aluminum cans, for future reprocessing.
Canadian Waste Facts
Where does Canada stand per global recycling standards?
Canadians generate 673 kilograms of waste per year per person, which places them at the top of the heap of excessive waste offenders. More surprising facts like this one are available in the section below.
4. Canada is the world’s worst waste producer (per capita).
Recycling statistics worldwide state that Canada is the largest waste producer on the planet (per capita).
Canada’s estimated annual waste per capita is 36.1 metric tonnes, while the yearly total waste is estimated to be 1,325,480,289 metric tonnes. The number two spot goes to Bulgaria, with the USA following close behind.
5. The average Canadian makes a lot of waste.
(Radio Canada International)
According to recycling statistics from 2019, the average Canadian produced almost 673 kilograms of waste. They also annually send around 510 kilograms of garbage per capita to landfills.
6. Canada regularly ships plastic overseas for recycling.
Not all of Canada’s recycling happens inside its borders. Plastic recycling numbers indicate that 12% gets shipped outside of North America, mainly to Southeast Asian countries, where, unfortunately, most of it is burned or reenters the environment.
7. Over 2 million tonnes of Canadian plastic waste ends up in landfills.
According to Oceana data from 2019, Canadians dump 2.8 million tonnes of plastic in landfills every year. Furthermore, some numbers suggest that Canadian citizens use a staggering amount of straws (57 million) daily and around 15 billion plastic bags yearly.
Statistics on Recycling in 2021
As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
If you’re interested in how an Ontario entrepreneur plans to use discarded tires to grow his business and potentially help his community—please keep reading.
We’ll also discuss which cities hope to improve their recycling programs and how paper packaging gets recycled in Canada.
8. An Ontario entrepreneur plans to expand his business by recycling tires.
Mitch Ouimette, CEO of Torrecco Inc., plans to build a tire recycling plant in Thunder Bay instead of annually shipping 6,000 metric tonnes of the discarded material 14 hours away to Southern Ontario. This plan could help with curbing Canada’s troublesome landfill pollution.
Ouimette will begin constructing the facility next year, which will process the tires into valuable materials such as Canadian crude and carbon black. His goal is to repurpose the tires in an eco-friendly manner while keeping resources and jobs in the community.
10. Thunder Bay intends to scale up its recycling program in 2021.
Due to COVID-19 affecting the city’s ability to send less trash to the dumping grounds, Thunder Bay, Ontario, plans to expand its curbside recycling program over the next couple of years.
Recycling statistics for 2020 indicated that Thunder Bay sent 48,505 tonnes of waste to landfills. Over 2,500 tonnes more compared to 2019 (46,004 tonnes). These inflated numbers were likely caused by the amount of personal protective equipment waste generated from people cleaning their homes and garages during the lockdowns.
11. Paper packaging is the material recycled most in Canada.
Canadian packaging mills produce boxes and cartons from 100% repurposed paper materials.
A recent study found that approximately 96% of Canadians have access to recycle cardboard boxes and paper bags. Recycling statistics for Canada put the national recovery rate for corrugated boxes at 85%.
12. Canadians have modernized their glass recycling facilities.
Because of its weight, abrasiveness to machinery, and sorting issues, glass is difficult to recycle.
Canadian recycling facts suggest that new technologies are helping facilities separate the glass. One of the most recent technologies features a vacuum which eases the separating of paper from glass. Other modern facilities use metal detection and mechanical screenings.
13. Tim Hortons pledged to start using reusable cups.
Tim Hortons, one of the country’s leading plastic polluters, plans to partner with Loop in hopes of curbing Canada’s garbage pollution problem. The collaboration will allow some Toronto customers to get their food and drinks in reusable and returnable packaging.
Recycling Statistics About Canada
Below, we’ll discuss the amount of plastic that Canadians throw out each year. Plus, we’ll reveal some interesting facts about mechanical recycling and the colossal landfill problem that the country faces.
14. Canadians throw out around 3.3 million tonnes of plastic each year.
According to a 2019 study, Canadians don’t recycle as much as they should!
The recycling numbers show that Canada only recycles 305,000 tonnes of its plastic, just 9% of the total plastic waste. For this reason, many provinces and municipalities have joined global initiatives, issued bans, and passed new legislation to get the problem under control.
15. Mechanical recycling is prevalent in Canada.
This type of recycling consists of shredding the plastic, melting it down, and then using it to create new products. However, this technique is difficult to implement because the materials must first be thoroughly sorted and cleaned.
16. Ontario made recycling mandatory for many of its businesses.
Many businesses and apartment buildings have to recycle specific materials in the Province of Ontario. This law, enacted in 1996, has positively influenced recycling in Canada.
Manufacturing facilities must recycle HDPE jugs, totes, crates, and more. Moreover, restaurants, office buildings, hotels, schools, and hospitals must recycle glass, steel, aluminum, paper, and plastic materials.
17. Nearly 100% of Canadians can now recycle their paper waste.
(Paper Packaging Canada)
In Canada, recycling has dramatically improved since all residents can now recycle nearly 100% of their paper waste. A significant improvement from the 1990s when these paper products would go straight to a landfill.
18. Canada’s landfill problem may be more significant than it seems.
Recent landfill statistics estimate that Canada is home to over 2,000 landfills! These foul-smelling dumping grounds are prone to rats, unwanted truck traffic, and can even leak heavy metals and chemicals into the groundwater.
Many experts believe that the municipalities mainly ignore this problem because recycling is more costly than dumping in landfills.
19.Greenpeace Canada is calling for a ban on all single-use plastics.
According to plastic recycling numbers from 2019, the most frequently collected single-use plastics are straws, cups, lids, and cigarette butts. Almost all of which can be traced back to companies that are top Canadian polluters.
Sarah King (head of Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign) stated: “We cannot clean and bandage our way out of this crisis. We need an urgent move away from disposables towards a reuse revolution.”
20. Starbucks ranked third on the list of top Canadian plastic polluters in 2019.
It appears that recycling companies in Canada can’t keep up with the vast amount of plastic in circulation. The bulk of which can be traced back to organizations apart of this list. In fact, out of the 240 businesses named in a 2019 audit, 39% of the pollution belonged to the top five companies.
These repeat offenders (in order) are Nestle, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and The Coca-Cola Company.
Concluding Recycling Statistics
It certainly seems the world is drowning in a sea of waste and that our planet desperately needs our help. However, there’s still hope as many companies and governments are taking action by pushing their customers and citizens to be more mindful of their carbon footprint. So, cheer up, and take a second look at our facts about recycling to see what you can do to make this world a better place for the future!
What are the statistics of recycling?
In many countries, recycling is more of a governmental issue rather than personal responsibility. Some communities even pass laws that mandate consumers to recycle. The recycling statistics show that Germany repurposes the most waste, at around 56%. The only non-European country to be a part of the top five recycling nations is South Korea, with a rate of 53.7%.
What percent of recycling gets recycled?
Metal, glass, plastic, and paper are the most recyclable materials. However, the numbers of these materials that actually get recycled are shockingly low.
National Geographic reports that around 91% of plastic doesn’t get recycled. Approximately 32% of metal was recycled worldwide, and just 31.3% of glass. Paper recycling seems to happen most often, at around 68%.
What can’t we recycle?
Plastic bags are one of the most widely used non-recyclable items. Disposable diapers, garden waste, bubble wrap, and disposable coffee cups are some more things that can’t be reprocessed. Although nearly all recycling statistics show that we can’t recycle many of the things we use, there is still hope. We just need to pay closer attention to the items we purchase and reuse or repurpose them accordingly.