StatsCAN Plus

The dirt on composting

July 5, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Composting is a great way to take organic waste and transform it into soil.

Just over three-quarters of Canadian households (76%) told us they composted either kitchen or yard waste in 2019, up from 61% in 2009. Three-quarters of the household organic kitchen and yard waste that was composted was collected by a city or private company.

Canadian households diverted 2.3 million tonnes of organic waste in 2018, almost double (+76%) the total amount of organic waste diverted by both residential and non-residential sources combined in 2002.

Most households compost organic kitchen waste

Just over 3 in 5 Canadian households (62%) composted organic kitchen waste in 2019, up from 56% in 2017 and 43% in 2009.

Households in Prince Edward Island (95%) and Nova Scotia (90%) were Canada’s most dedicated kitchen waste composters in 2019.

Conversely, about one-third of households in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan composted kitchen waste, the lowest rates nationally.

Among Canada’s larger cities, almost 9 in 10 households in Halifax, Barrie, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria composted kitchen waste, the highest rates nationally.

Of note, households in Calgary (88%) were more than twice as likely to compost kitchen waste in 2019 as their neighbours to the north in Edmonton (38%). However, this is not surprising given that Edmonton had a single-stream waste program when the survey was conducted that did not require households to separate their organic waste when they put all their trash at the curb. Instead, household organic waste was separated from the rest of the waste after collection. Since then, the City of Edmonton has instituted a source-separated organics program.

Four in five households with a lawn or garden compost garden waste

Canadians are much more likely to compost organic waste from their yard or garden rather than their kitchen, with 4 in 5 households with a lawn or garden (79%) reporting composting garden waste in 2019.

The likelihood of composting yard waste varies markedly across Canada and even within a province. For example, almost 4 in 5 households with a lawn or garden in Montréal (79%) composted organic waste in 2019, compared with just over one-third in Saguenay (36%).

In Ontario cities, the share of households with lawns or gardens composting organic waste ranged from 96% in Oshawa to 69% in Greater Sudbury.

Do-it-yourself composting

About one-quarter of Canadian households that composted their yard waste (26%) put it in a compost bin, pile or garden at their home in 2019, down from 34% in 2009.

Households in Belleville (61%) were most likely to compost yard waste in their own backyard. Approximately one in seven households with a lawn or garden in Canada’s largest cities—Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver—composted yard waste on their property in 2019.

Most Canadians who have access to a municipal composting or organics collection program use it

One issue surrounding household composting rates across Canada is access to municipal composting or organic collection programs. Municipalities with such programs are much more likely to see higher household composting rates.

Approximately 1 in 8 Canadian households had access to municipal composting or organics collection program for kitchen waste, yard waste or both, but did not use it in 2019.

Approximately 1 in 12 households in Vancouver (8%) who had access to municipal composting programs but did not use it, one of the lowest rates nationally.

Conversely, about one-third of the households in Greater Sudbury (32%) had access to municipal composting programs but did not use it, the highest rate nationally.

More data on the way

Statistics Canada asked Canadian households about their environmental practices in 2021. Results will be released later this year.

Contact information

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