Canada's Surprising Rank in Garbage Production and GHG Emissions

Canadians tend to think quite highly of themselves when it comes to environmental issues. After all, Canada is the land of nice people, forests, lakes and wildlife...or so it seems when observing stereotypical Canadian imagery.

Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth. Canadians are among the worst offenders when it comes to garbage productions and greenhouse gas emissions. The following stats might surprise you:
  • Canada ranks in last place out of 17 countries and gets a “D” grade on the municipal waste generation report card (chart below).
  • Canada produced 777 kg per capita of municipal waste in 2008, twice as much as the best performer, Japan.
  • Canada’s municipal waste generated per capita has been steadily increasing since 1990.

  • Estimates suggest that Canadians use between 1.6 and 2 billion disposable coffee cups a year. These represent up to 35,000 tonnes of paper, made from more than 70,000 tonnes of raw wood, harvested from thousands of hectares of forest.
  • Canada ranks 15th out of 17 countries for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita and earns a “D” grade (chart below).
  • Canada’s per capita GHG emissions decreased by nearly 5 per cent between 1990 and 2010, while total GHG emissions in Canada grew 17 per cent.
  • In 2010, Canada’s GHG emissions were 20.3 tonnes per capita, significantly higher than the 17-country average of 12.5 tonnes per capita. Canada’s per capita GHG emissions were nearly three times greater than Switzerland’s, the top performer.

So next time you're lounging in your Muskoka chair by the lake at your cottage surrounded by forest, remember how you got there: in a gas guzzling SUV.