Saskatchewan’s New Solid Waste Management Strategy

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The Government of Saskatchewan recently announced the new provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy, outlining a practical and sustainable strategy for short- and long-term waste management goals over the next 20 years.

Saskatchewan produces the second-highest amount of waste per capita in Canada at 842 kilograms of waste. Along with its federal, provincial and territorial partners, Saskatchewan has signed on to the Canada-wide aspirational goal of reducing waste generated per person by 30 per cent by 2030, and 50 per cent by 2040 from 2014 baseline levels. This means reducing waste to 589 kg/person by 2030 (30 per cent) and 421 kg/person by
2040 (50 per cent).

The majority of the waste generated in the province ends up in Saskatchewan’s 203 landfills, of which 186 are managed by municipalities and 17 are industrial/private landfills.

To move the province towards this future state, the Saskatchewan government strategy focuses on six goals:

  1. Enhance education, awareness and technical understanding of waste management best practices and the risks of improper practices across Saskatchewan.
  2. Encourage regional collaboration to enhance the cost effectiveness of waste management infrastructure.
  3. Provide a modern, efficient and effective regulatory system for waste disposal and management.
  4. Enhance waste diversion across Saskatchewan.
  5. Foster innovative and sustainable solutions to manage waste.
  6. Demonstrate government leadership in waste management.

To achieve the waste reduction targets, the government has made a number of specific targets under each of the six goals. For example, one specific commitment is to work with the federal government through the Investing in Canada Plan to close and decommission unsustainable landfills or enhance existing municipal or regional waste management
facilities. Another specific commitment is that continued support of innovation for waste management through initiatives such as the
Government of Saskatchewan Innovation Challenge.

The Solid Waste Management Strategy aligns with the Saskatchewan Growth Plan and will serve as the roadmap for waste reduction and management for the well-being of the province, its people and its future.

Other specific aspects of the strategy include the Household Hazardous Waste Regulations and Recycling Program as well as the Grain Bag Recycling Program.

Household Hazardous Waste Regulations and Recycling Program

The Government of Saskatchewan is paving the way for an important province-wide stewardship program for managing household hazardous waste (HHW). Although HHW makes up approximately one per cent of the waste stream in Saskatchewan, it poses a much higher risk of environmental impacts than other municipal waste due to its toxic nature.

In order to create a permanent, province-wide HHW program, the much-anticipated Household Hazardous Waste Product Stewardship Regulations came into effect on June 27, 2019. The regulations require manufacturers or distributors, vendors, importers, and retailers of household hazardous waste products to manage the collection and safe disposal of the products.

Once the product stewardship program has been approved by the Ministry of Environment, implementation of the program can begin to take shape.

The household hazardous waste program will be funded and operated by the industry that creates, imports or sells the products identified in the regulations, alleviating some of the costs for municipalities and taxpayers.

Grain Bag Recycling Program

The Government of Saskatchewan has approved a recycling program for agricultural plastics 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. All sellers of grain bags are required to join an approved program.

The grain bag recycling program is operated by Cleanfarms on behalf of regulated retailers and manufacturers. Cleanfarms, an organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural waste, is currently operating 32 collection sites around the province. Continued growth of the program will expand the collection network in the years to come.

The grain bag recycling program is funded through an environmental handling fee (EHF) added to grain bags at the point of purchase.