Compared to the same period in 2019, Ontario municipalities surveyed by OWMA are experiencing an increase in total residential waste generated, with pronounced increases in green bin and household garbage, up over eight percent (8%) and five percent (5%), respectively for the period of March 9 to April 13.

About 232,000 tons of residential waste were generated during the five-week period by the twelve municipalities in the survey, an 8,300 ton increase over the same period in 2019  – the equivalent of over 600 full garbage trucks.

To quantify the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on waste and recycling systems, the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) has worked to develop a better understanding of residential, and industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) waste disposal during and possible impacts as a result of COVID-19.

This survey will help governments develop more effective strategies for managing waste flows during covid-19 and being prepared for future emergencies. OWMA continues to work with its member volunteers to respond to Covid-19 related challenges and develop sound policy positions and responses to the government.

Other Survey Highlights Include:

  • Rural municipalities in the survey have experienced a twelve percent (12%)  increase in household garbage generation, and an eight percent (8%) overall increase in residential waste
  • In large urban centers and regions, green bin (food waste) materials for the week of March 30, 2020 saw an increase of over fifteen percent (15%)
  • Most data collected to date on Industrial, Commercial & Institutional (ICI) reflects economic activity variations and this is evident during the period from March 9th to April 17th
  • Overall commercial waste is down. Restaurants appear down in excess of seventy percent (70%), and manufacturing appears down by roughly fifteen percent (15%). However, food processing/grocery store waste is up in excess of twenty percent (20%)
  • The data also confirms the inter-relationship between residential and IC&I waste generation in that with people working from home, waste that would normally be generated in offices and part of IC&I waste (down), is now being generated as part of the residential waste stream (up).
  • Anecdotal information also suggests that bio-medical and healthcare waste tonnage has increased considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more information is received for the ICI sector a more detailed picture should evolve.
For more information, contact Paul van der Werf Ph.D. (Co-chair, OWMA Waste Diversion Committee) at [email protected].