How Much Waste We Generate

The amount of waste we generate has grown steadily in relation to our population and economy. With economic growth and prosperity, consumption increases created more waste. Cheap plastics and aluminum compounded the problem, making possible a whole range of throwaway products and packaging. In a lifetime, the average North American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. A 68 kg adult will leave a legacy of 40,825 kg of waste.

In 2008, Canadians produced over 34 million tonnes of waste - just over 1,000 kg per person. Of this, only 25% was diverted from landfill through recycling and composting programs. In Alberta, only 15% of waste is diverted.

Graphic showing that 8.5 million tonnes of waste is diverted. 

One-third of waste produced is residential while two-thirds is non-residential. In Alberta, municipal recycling and composting programs primarily target residential waste.

Up to 80% of residential waste can be recycled

Chart showing that up to 80 per cent of waste can be diverted. 


  • Alberta produces more waste per capita than any other region in Canada. In 2008, Alberta disposed of 1,122 kg per person compared to 378 kg per person in Nova Scotia.
  • Between 2006 and 2008, Alberta was one of three provinces with a per capita increase in waste to landfill.
  • Higher rates in Alberta were largely the result of non-residential waste, a result of a growing economy and a lack of legislation and programs targeting this sector.
  • Alberta’s per capita disposal of residential waste was slightly higher than the national average (271 kg versus 256 kg).
  • In 2012, Spruce Grove residents disposed of 241 kg of residential waste per person.
  • A recent waste audit in Spruce Grove showed that 76% of all items thrown in the garbage could have been recycled or composted.
  • In 2013, the City of Spruce Grove diverted 2,266.05 metric tonnes of organic material from landfills.
  • In 2014, the average composition of organic waste collected from Spruce Grove residents was determined to be 99.4% yard waste, 0.2% kitchen waste and 0.4% contaminants.
  • in 2014, the percentage of available waste stream that is being captured by the organic collection in Spruce Grove is 67% yard waste and 0.2% food waste.  Comparing this to the typical residential waste collection of 31% yard waste and 21% food waste, the City of Spruce Grove as plenty of growth potential for waste diversion.