Northern Ontario: Waste Management in Northern and Rural Canada

Updated: Mar 29

The first case study in a three-part series on Waste Management in Northern and Rural Canada by Chanel Best. This series is part of the Kroeger Policy Review's Issue 2 on Waste Management in Canada. To read the series primer click here.



CASE STUDY: Districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timiskaming and The Regional Municipality of Sudbury [1]


The inequalities present between regions that are remote versus regions that are densely populated in the Canadian waste management sector are apparent when comparing Northern Ontario with the rest of the province. Firstly, the overall cost for waste management services is typically higher for a resident in Northern Ontario, and many of the services that are offered for free in the rest of Ontario possess an additional cost in the north. For example in the City of Ottawa, recycling blue bins are provided with no cost to the resident [2], whereas in the municipality of Dryden located in the district of Kenora, blue bins cost $10.15 each[3]. In Fort Frances, a small population hub in Rainy River, blue bins are no longer provided by the town for its citizens. Instead, citizens are advised to purchase them externally - composters cost $43.20 [4], while the green bin equivalent remains free in Ottawa [5].


Additionally, policy differences also exist within Ontario, where Northern Ontario typically has to adhere to less strict provisions for waste collection. In 2018, the Government of Ontario published a policy statement detailing new provisions for food and organic waste [6]. The document includes suggested targets and deadlines. Municipalities in Northern Ontario are expected to reduce organic waste by 50% by 2025, while urban centers in southern Ontario are expected to reduce 70% by 2023 [7]. More lenient guidelines for the northern regions helps accommodate cost concerns but ignores the need for external support and is damaging to the environment. However, the document does not provide specific recommendations to achieve these targets, and only larger cities in northern Ontario such as Sudbury can accommodate these provisions - Sudbury is currently the only city in the region with a green bin program, a key measure in reducing food waste [8]. Thunder Bay is implementing its own green bin program [9], but organic waste is one of the costliest components of waste management [10] and therefore new solutions are needed alongside green bins to achieve the same level of organic waste reductions in communities with populations under 50,000.


Click on the link to read the Case Study on the Northwest Territories and the Case Study on Rural Canada.

  1. Government of Ontario, Environmental Protection Act, Reg. 101/94, 2011. https://www.canlii.org/en/on/laws/regu/o-reg-103-94/latest/o-reg-103- 94.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAOTy4gUmVnLiAxMDEvOTQAAAAAAQ&offset=0

  2. City of Ottawa, Recycling, Accessed December 13, 2020. https://ottawa.ca/en/garbage and-recycling/recycling#get-blue-bin-black-bin-or-green-bin

  3. City of Dryden, Garbage and Recycling, Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.dryden.ca/en/community/garbage-and-recycling.aspx

  4. Blue bins stopped being provided by the city since 2018. The municipality also has engaged with waste reduction practices such as banning single use plastic and food containers in January of 2020. (City of Fort Frances, Waste Management, Accessed December 13, 2020 https://www.fortfrances.ca/town/operations-facilities/waste-management)

  5. City of Ottawa, 2020

  6. The main solution proposed in this document is the advocacy for a circular economy with the goal of decreasing the amount of waste entering landfills. However, the document does not propose steps to increase our current recycling. (Government of Ontario, “Climate Change Action Plan: Ontario’s Food and Waste Policy Statement,” 1-32. 2018. https://files.ontario.ca/food_and_organic_waste_policy_statement.pdf)

  7. There are also areas in Southern Ontario that have to adhere to the less strict organic waste reduction targets, based on their populations. (Government of Ontario, 2018.)

  8. Gary Rinne, “City of Thunder Bay Planning for Green Bin Program,” TB News Watch, November 4, 2020. https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/city-of-thunder-bay-planning for-green-bin-program-2848138

  9. Plans to implement a green bin program in Thunder Bay comes after the government implemented new targets for organic waste reduction the plan is in its early stages but has general support from residents. (Gary Rinne, 2020.)

  10. Government of Ontario, 2018