Saskatchewan

Sask. government unveils new long-term waste management strategy

The government of Saskatchewan is looking to reduce waste by 50 per cent by 2040 and has released a new plan to do so. Among their goals is reducing the amount of organic waste heading to landfills.

Education component key to strategy’s success

Sask. environment minister Dustin Duncan formally released the government's new waste management strategy on Thursday. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Reducing organic waste is part of the Saskatchewan government's new strategy around waste management.

Statistics Canada data from 2014 included with the plan, released on Thursday, says Saskatchewan generates the second highest amount of waste per capita, with each person creating about 60 regular-sized garbage bags worth of garbage per year.

Information handed out at the media event in Regina on Thursday identified the improper disposal of organic waste, which leads to the creation of methane gas, as one of the biggest challenges the province faces. 

As part of the new waste management strategy, the province is looking to create a composting guidance document and update all landfill and waste management guidance documents by April 2020. 

Education and public buy-in are key parts of the new strategy. 

"In the past we've just kind of thought that in Saskatchewan, we have a large land base and not a lot of people, so you can just throw up a landfill anywhere you want," environment minister Dustin Duncan said. 

"Part of it is, in the educational process, just ensuring residents of Saskatchewan are aware that there is a cost to landfilling products that maybe could be diverted to a different route, a different process."

Duncan said the province is still in the research stage, but is looking at how other jurisdictions, like Manitoba, have introduced levies for landfill use.

Duncan said the government is looking into the possibility of incinerating waste and generating power to reduce methane gas emissions from landfills. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The province is also looking at implementing a landfill operator certification program.

Duncan said the program would ensure the people operating landfills are certified to do so. He said the current version is a one day course.  

The landfill operator certification program is expected to be implemented by 2025, according to the government's timeline.

Duncan said the province is aiming to reduce the amount of solid waste going into landfills by 30 per cent by 2030 and by 50 per cent by 2040 through the new strategy.

Collaboration key to success: chair

Richard "Porky" Porter, chair of the solid waste advisory committee, said two recurring themes emerged during discussions with stakeholders in the province: the creation of a set of guidelines and standards around waste management and the need for more education.

Like Duncan, Porter said municipalities need to consider all costs associated with creating a landfill before doing so. 

Porter said it might appear cheap on the surface to make a landfill, but other long term costs like the decommissioning of landfills needs to be considered beforehand. 

Richard "Porky" Porter, the former Reeve for the RM of Canwood, runs a landfill and helped advising in the creation of the province's new waste management strategy. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

He said for communities that can't put up the money for waste diversion tactics up front, collaboration becomes essential. 

"There's a shortage of money and there's a lot of landfills to be decommissioned through the province," Porter said. "What I think they need to do is work together, collaborate, and I think there's a way of getting through it but for each community to go alone, it doesn't work."

About the Author

Bryan Eneas

Reporter

Bryan Eneas is a journalist from the Penticton Indian Band currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he reported in central and northern Saskatchewan. Send news tips to Bryan.Eneas@cbc.ca.

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