Why we measure this
Waste management includes reducing, reusing and recycling our waste to prevent it from ending up in Saskatchewan's landfills. Waste reduction or prevention is the preferred approach to managing waste, as it avoids creating waste through product design and consumer purchasing habits. Reusing or repurposing an item can give products a second life before they become waste. Finally, recycling is one of the final options available to responsibly manage waste before disposal.
Recycling uses time, energy and resources to reprocess waste materials into new products or materials. Saskatchewan has several regulations and programs that use the extended producer responsibility (EPR) model to encourage reducing, reusing, and recycling products and materials. EPR is a policy in which responsibility for the end-of-life management of products and materials shifts to the producers of these materials (i.e. brand owners, first importers or manufacturers) and away from municipalities and general taxpayers. The Ministry of Environment maintains regulations for EPR programs in Saskatchewan for used oil and antifreeze, scrap tires, waste paint, electronic equipment, printed paper and packaging, agricultural plastics, batteries and household hazardous waste. The ministry also works with SARCAN Recycling through a contract to manage the province-wide depot system for the collection and recycling of beverage containers.
One way to reduce pressure on the environment and sustain scarce resources is to divert waste before it gets to landfills. Much of what we describe as trash or waste is a valuable resource. Less waste means better landfill management and less pressure on natural resources. It also means lower carbon emissions. Recycling is an indicator of public commitment to share in the responsibility for environmental stewardship.
What is happening
In 2019-20, Saskatchewan people recycled 77 per cent of all deposit-paid, ready-to-serve beverage containers sold in the province, for a total of more than 438 million beverage containers collected by the program. Since 2015-16, the average number of containers recycled and recovery rate has been trending upwards, but saw a decline in 2019-20. Since 2010, the SARCAN program has diverted 22,000 tonnes of materials from Saskatchewan landfills each year. In April 2017, fluid milk containers were added to the beverage container program.
In 2019, the Saskatchewan Paint Stewardship Program collected 472,731 litres of waste paint and 137 tonnes of paint cans and containers. This includes more than 82,700 litres of paint collected and reused through the program's paint exchange initiative.
Saskatchewan had the first industry-led electronics recycling stewardship program in North America. In 2019, more than 2,400 metric tonnes of end-of-life electronics were collected. In 2018, the program was expanded to incorporate additional products including, net-top computers, external disk drives, desktop scanners, e-book readers, floor-standing printers and countertop microwaves.
In 2019, 18,945,438 litres of waste liquid and 88,727 tonnes of solid waste were diverted from landfills through provincially regulated waste stewardship programs.
The Multi-Material Recycling Program is a cost-sharing program between businesses and municipalities to help pay for the collection and recycling of household packaging and paper materials. In 2019, more than 41,900 tonnes of printed paper and packaging materials were recycled and the program now includes more than 500 municipalities, representing 84 per cent of the population.
In 2019, 904,125 tires (more than 22,800 tonnes) were collected through the province-wide tire recycling program.
In 2019, the used oil recycling program collected and recycled 18 million litres of used oil, 328,800 litres of used antifreeze, and 1,100 tonnes of oil filters, and almost 463 tonnes of plastic containers. In 2018, Saskatchewan launched an agricultural plastics recycling program under The Agricultural Packaging Product Waste Stewardship Regulations. The program is the first of its kind in Canada and provides a responsible option for producers to return plastic grain bags for recycling. In 2019, the program collected 2,200 tonnes of grain bags.
What we are doing
Plastic waste management has emerged as a significant and rapidly evolving public issue that is putting pressure on municipal recycling programs in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada. In November 2018, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), the federal, provincial and territorial governments approved a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. Building on the Ocean Plastics Charter, the CCME strategy takes a circular economy approach to plastics and provides a framework for action. The key areas in the Strategy include product design, single-use plastics, collection systems, markets, recycling capacity, consumer awareness, aquatic activities, research and monitoring, cleanup, and global action. Saskatchewan supports the CCME Strategy, which complements other waste reduction efforts in Saskatchewan, such as the development of a Solid Waste Management Strategy.
In January 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan released its Solid Waste Management Strategy for the province, which strives for a practical, sustainable and integrated solid waste management system. The strategy will serve as a roadmap for waste reduction and management, and outlines six goals and several commitments to raise public awareness, encourage regional collaboration, modernize rules and regulations, enhance waste diversion, foster innovation, and demonstrate government leadership. Saskatchewan's strategy adopts and supports the targets set in the CCME's Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste – to reduce the amount of waste generated per person by 30 per cent by 2030 and 50 per cent by 2040.
In 2019, The Household Hazardous Waste Product Stewardship Regulations came into effect, requiring sellers of household hazardous waste (HHW) products to manage the collection and safe disposal of the products. HHW is defined as equipment, material, products and substances that meet the criteria for flammable, corrosive or physically hazardous. HHW can include toxic or environmentally hazardous materials, household pesticides and batteries. The program for household batteries was launched in January 2021, and the program for the remaining HHW products listed above is planned to launch on April 1, 2021.
As the economy grows, reducing the amount of waste going to local landfills will improve our environment and maintain our quality of life. In 2019, 18,945,438 litres of waste liquid and 88,727 tonnes of solid waste were diverted from landfills. Some of this material can be turned into recycled products, which will create new business and employment opportunities.