Third year of waste composition studies gives valuable insights

Reliable data from waste composition studies helps monitor performance and plan for the future, but gathering this information can be time-consuming and expensive. To remove the burden for individual programs, the CIF and Stewardship Ontario conducted and shared results of waste composition studies from municipalities throughout the province.

Results are in

The Summary Report of the 2018/2019 Waste Composition Studies is now available! The report provides four season insight into seven single family, two drop-off depot, and one multi-residential program representing eight of the nine Datacall reporting groups. This is the third year of reporting, which present valuable insights into waste stream generation rates (kilograms/household/week), material composition, seasonal variances, and capture percentages.

All audits to date have 50+ sort categories and contain a wealth of information to compare trends in composition and diversion.

For instance, the graph at the right represents averages from 18 studies (six in 2017, seven in 2018, and five in 2019) for three of the more common materials managed in Ontario programs. By weight, glass (recyclable and non) has increased in the Blue Box, aluminum appears to be steady, and gable top and aseptic containers are rising.

Despite the packaging shift from glass to plastic, the weight of glass could be attributed to producers seeking aesthetic qualities of glass packaging, consumer concern over toxicity, and the growth in its use for specialized beverages (kombucha, anyone?).

The data also shows improving capture rates of recyclables plastics, from an average of 48.26% in 2017 to 64.01% in 2019. To better understand how this breaks down, the most recent round of audits expanded the number of categories to 91, including 44 different types of plastic.

Waste composition studies can assist in identifying:


Understand the amount and type of waste produced to find ways to reduce it (reduce, reuse, and divert) and negotiate waste and recycling services with real data.


Audit data can highlight specific communication needs to address capture rates and contamination.


Tracking changes over time allows municipalities to identify shifts in the system to prepare for modifications in contracts and/or operations.


Audit data allows municipalities to assess program effectiveness and track performance towards meeting diversion goals.

Learn and Loop

Information from waste composition studies can be used to benchmark programs, compare to others, investigate the mix of materials at the curb, and identify changes in packaging trends.

Help us help you

The CIF is continuing to seek new ways to help municipalities look into the data at greater depths and improve the utility of this information in analysis, reporting and other planning activities. If you have a suggestion, please contact CIF staff.

Interesting in participating in future waste composition studies?

Apply today through the CIF REOI by June 26, 2020.