Canada scores eighth worst in OECD waste index

BERLIN, Germany – In a weighted score across a number of waste management indicators, Canada has ranked eighth worst out of the 36 countries within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Global Waste Index ranks countries according to how effectively they manage their waste per capita. It analyzes the most common methods of processing waste and allocates a number of positive or negative points relative to the amount of CO2 emissions, methane, and environmental contamination the technique causes on average.

The 36 countries within the OECD were then all scored according to the kilograms of waste they process using each method. These include: recycling, incineration, landfill, and open dump, as well as the amount of waste generated per capita and the amount of waste unaccounted.

2019 Index Results

According to the index, Canada ranks worse than the US for waste management. We send 510 kilograms of waste per capita per year to over 10,000 landfill sites across the country. As well, Canada ranks fourth worst among OECD countries for the level of consumption per capita, behind only the United States, Denmark, and New Zealand.

Canadians recycle just 20 percent of total waste: 145 kilograms per capita per year. Iceland ranks top for recycling. Icelanders recycle over 360 kilograms of waste per capita per year – more than half of all the waste they produce. 

Canada ranks ahead both the US and the UK for waste management. Canadians generate a third more waste than citizens of the United Kingdom but are more likely to send it to landfill sites rather than incinerators. 

The US is the world’s largest producer of waste per capita. It has come under fire in the past year for using the developing world as a dumping group for 70 percent of its rubbish.

Turkey ranks worst in the global waste index. In spite of efforts to change open dumping areas into sanitary landfills and to build recycling and composting facilities, Turkey still has the highest number of open dumps per capita.

Mexico ranks in fourth place, because of its high score for number of open dumps, among others. Annually, 88 kilograms per capita is disposed without any control. However, Mexican citizens do not produce nearly as much waste as US citizens. 

South Korea ranks best overall for waste management. It does not send its waste to open dumps and does not score negatively for unaccounted waste. Moreover, South Koreans generally produce less waste – annually, only 359 kilograms per capita. 

Latvia has the most unaccounted waste out of all the OECD countries, followed by Italy.

The global index is produced by Sensoneo, a provider of smart, enterprise-grade waste management solutions operating in 40 countries worldwide. Click here to learn more about the index’s scoring methodology and the data sources.