• Climate Change

    Ontario's waste management sector has a key role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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What's This About?

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Ontario Waste Management Sector


Every year, waste management sector activities in Ontario reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 22 million tonnes of CO2. This is 14 million tonnes of CO2 more than the landfill gas emissions from legacy waste-in-place in Ontario landfills. This includes:

• The recycling and reuse activities of the Ontario waste management industry reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 14.5 million tonnes of CO2eq per year, comprised of both avoided future methane emissions and immediate reductions from manufacturing energy and forestry impacts.

• Of the 3.7 million tonnes of food and organic waste generated in Ontario, just over 1 million tonnes is diverted from landfill through compost and anaerobic digestion facilities, eliminating 1.6 million tonnes of CO2eq emissions per year.

• Landfill gas capture systems at Ontario landfills reduce CO2eq emissions by 3.9 million tonnes per year, by capturing and either flaring or burning methane gas to generate power or provide industrial process heat.

• For some materials that are landfilled, like newspaper and yard waste, more carbon is sequestered (stored) than is released in the form of methane, so the landfill acts as a carbon sink for these materials. An additional 2 million tonnes of CO2eq are permanently sequestered in Ontario landfills every year.

• In Ontario, over 140,000 tonnes of waste are processed at Energy-from-Waste facilities per year, resulting in net greenhouse gas reductions of 162,000 tonnes of CO2eq.

Main source for all the above: Ontario Waste Management Association, December 2015. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Ontario Waste Management Industry”. Authored by Maria Kelleher (Kelleher Environmental), Christina Seidel (Sonneverra International Corp.), and Ralph Torrie (Torrie Smith Associates).

Our Goal

To work with the provincial government to develop programs and policies that will incentivize activities in the waste management sector to reduce GHG emissions, including the development and expansion of landfill-gas-capture systems, renewable natural gas projects and recycling facilities.

Our Progress

The OWMA continues to work with the government to ensure that new climate policies related to the waste management sector are designed in a way to achieve meaningful emissions reductions.

We have provided comments on the adaptation of an offset protocol for landfill-gas destruction and will continue to play an active role in the development of additional offset protocols for organics diversion.

Our priorities are to minimize the red tape associated with offset registration and compliance; maintain a level-playing field between Ontario companies offering offset credits and businesses in other jurisdictions with fewer compliance and regulatory costs; and align offset and energy policies for waste management companies, such as Anaerobic Digestion facilities, which require access to renewable energy markets.

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