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Report Says Canada Creates More Garbage Per Capita Than Any Other Country In The Developed World
January 18, 2013
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It seems, that when it comes to protecting the environment, Canada talks a good game but that's about it.

According to a new report, as a country, we use way too much water and energy, and create more garbage per capita than any other developed country.

The report entitled 'How Canada Performs - Environment' was done by the Conference Board of Canada.

It looked at air pollution, the amount of garbage produced, how much energy and water is used, along with a number of factors.

Out of the 17 developed countries listed in the report, Canada ranked 15th, ahead of only the United States and Australia.

France, Norway and Sweden are the top three countries overall.

"We (Canada) are typically in the bottom three or four," co-author Len Coad told The Toronto Star. Coad is the board's director of energy, environment and technology policy.

For example, when it comes to water, the report says we use almost double the average of other countries. The only country that uses more water is the U.S.

We're dead last when it comes to using the most total energy.

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Coad says there are few factors that contribute to Canada's poor showing, including our large land mass, cold climate and resource-based economy.

But he also points out that "many of our poor results are based on our inefficient use of our resources."

Garbage is a prime example. Coad says the blame, and the responsibility to improve things, "lies with those who are generating it: people and businesses."

The study was based on data from 2009. In that year, Canada produced 777 kilograms of garbage per citizen.

Across all 17 countries in the report, the average was just 578 kg.

By comparison, Japan produced only 377 kilograms of garbage that year and was ranked first in that category.

So, when all is said and done, Canada produced more than twice as much garbage, per person, than Japan.

Coad suggests part of the problem is that, as a country, we have so much in the way of resources, we don't feel compelled to use less.

It's "because we pay lower prices and the incentive to consume less and improve our performance isn't there," he said.

Water is a good example of that, the board says.

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"Excessive water withdrawals in Canada can be attributed to the lack of widespread water conservation practices and water pricing that does not promote efficiency," it says.

In fact, we use nine times more water than people in Denmark, which is the best country in that category.

There are some areas where Canada did very well, receiving an A grade. They include:

• Forests: Overall, the report found our forests are well managed and well protected. Canada got an A and ranked second only to Japan on use of forest resources.

• Biodiversity: Canada received an A, but the report says the number of species at risk in our country is going up.

• Water Quality: Overall, the quality of our water supply was above-average. Canada ranked 4th in that category, earning an A.

The report also said that Canada's air quality has improved. And it gave credit to ordinary Canadians for cutting their water use from 335 litres per day in 2001, to 327 litres per day in 2006.

The problem, it says, is that industries used more water during that time - which drove up our overall water consumption.

"Canada must promote economic growth without further degrading the environment," Coad says. "Encouraging more sustainable consumption is crucial to achieve that objective."

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