Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
Responsive image

Waste Watch Ottawa report: do better on diversion

You are here

Today, a group called Waste Watch Ottawa published a report that urges the City to do better on waste diversion. I was pleased to devote some of our intern Julie's research capacity to its production. Click below to read the full report. I'm looking forward to hearing residents' and the City's reaction to it in the coming days. This is a good time to note that the conclusions aren't mine, but it's always worthwhile to have challenging discussions.

The authors reach some provocative conclusions, but also offer some solutions to help extend the life of our landfill. I hope you'll take a look. Click the PDF link below to read the full report.


 NEWS RELEASE                                                                                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       

Ottawa’s Inadequate Recycling and Green Bin Programs Shorten Life of the City’s Trail Road Landfill Site

Waste Watch Ottawa Analysis Finds
City’s Lack of Planning and Public Education is Squandering Landfill Capacity

Ottawa, September 15, 2017

Ottawa is dumping much of its recyclable and green waste into landfill, squandering both the resources that could be captured and precious landfill space.

According to  City of Ottawa data, only 43% of residential waste was diverted from landfill in 2015, well below the Ontario average of 48%, and trailing sadly behind the 60%+ diversion achieved by leading municipalities such as York Region and Simcoe County. “If Ottawa can transform itself from a laggard to a leader in recycling and composting, the need for a new landfill could be delayed by over twenty years,” said waste expert Duncan Bury, for Waste Watch Ottawa (WWO).

WWO’s detailed analysis of online Ontario data of provincial waste diversion from disposal performance and a City of Ottawa 2014/2015 report obtained via a municipal freedom of information request, was conducted with the assistance of University of Ottawa students and Councillor Jeff Leiper’s office. Based on a review of municipal best practices, options are offered to improve the design and effectiveness of recycling and green bin programs, solid waste diversion policies and programs, and waste collection and processing activities in Ottawa. 

The 2014/2015 City waste audit and composition study indicates that 50% of Ottawa residents are not using their green bin for organics collection and 25% of residents do not use the recycling program. Thus, high rates of compostable and recyclable materials end up in the garbage.

“Other municipalities appear to care more about their programs and have invested time, effort and dollars to improve them over time, to engage residents to increase participation and to achieve considerably better rates of waste diversion than Ottawa.  If York Region can divert 63% of its waste, why cannot Ottawa do the same? If Toronto can divert 52% of its waste why is Ottawa languishing at 43%?” pressed Bury. 

Ottawa’s Trail Road landfill site is receiving considerably more waste than is necessary or desirable, and this is compromising and squandering the landfill’s capacity.  Optimistically, based on current performance, the landfill will have capacity until around 2045. Ottawa is fortunate compared with other Ontario municipalities, but 28 years is not far off, for landfill planning. Bill Toms of Waste Watch Ottawa stated, “given the environmental and political challenges of siting a new landfill site, which could take at least a decade and cost over $200 million, Trail Road may in fact be very difficult or impossible to replace. Everything should therefore be done to husband its capacity for the long term.”

WWO’s analysis shows that for every 1% increase in the rate of waste diversion, Ottawa can gain an extra 1 year of life expectancy for the Trail Road landfill. An increase from the current mediocre waste diversion rate of 43% to 55% would extend the Trail Road life expectancy from the current estimated closure date of around 2045 to 2055.  A further increase of 10 points to 65% would extend the landfill life to beyond 2065.

Waste Watch Ottawa calls on the City of Ottawa to reverse its February 2016 halt to waste management and diversion planning and immediately to re-engage with the public to plan and implement waste reduction and diversion initiatives which will significantly extend the life of the possibly irreplaceable Trail Road landfill.  WWO has identified over 20 new and supportive programs for enhanced recycling and organics collection that are best practices in more successful municipalities. Immediate action is necessary to consult, review and implement these recommendations and to enhance significantly the budget for recycling and organics education and promotion.

A news conference and presentation of the Waste Watch Ottawa report will be held on Friday September 15th at 10:30 at Ottawa City Hall, Billings Room.

Full copies of the WWO report are available on the websites of Ottawa City Councillor Jeff Leiper ( Ecology Ottawa ( ) and Prevent Cancer Now (

  • 30        -



Duncan Bury                                                                                           Bill Toms

Waste Watch Ottawa                                                                            Waste Watch Ottawa

Phone: 613 729-0499                                                                            Phone: 613 225-9732

Cell: 613 406-8262                                                                                 Cell: 613 697-2395                                                                    


Duncan Bury has worked for over 30 years in the fields of waste management and recycling including with the former City of Ottawa, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton and with Environment Canada.  He holds an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo and for the past 7 years has been providing waste policy and waste diversion advice as a consultant, primarily to governments and government organizations including the United Nations and the OECD.

Bill Toms is a former federal public servant and has resided in Ottawa since 1970. He retired from Finance Canada over 10 years ago. He holds an MA in Energy Economics from York University.  He was a member of the City of Ottawa Environmental Advisory Committee for several years and is still a member of the Trail Road Public Liaison Committee.

Meg Sears PhD has degrees in chemical engineering and applied chemistry from the University of Toronto and biochemical engineering from McGill. She is an Ottawa-based environmental health scientist, Chair of Prevent Cancer Now, and has been engaged in rural land use, wetlands protection and land use planning. Meg advocates “least-toxic” / smallest footprint approaches, during times of accelerating change.

Brian Tansey has a degree in chemistry and biology from Concordia (Montreal) and worked for 25 years in Canadian industry with Imperial Oil, Monsanto and Canadian Pacific, and KPMG in the areas of technical applications, organizational performance, and job-fit, both in Canada and abroad.  He is a long time supporter of zero waste principles, was a core member of Friends of Lansdowne and participated in the City’s original waste management plan consultations.

Posted September 14, 2017