Alberta’s recycling sector generated $700 million in economic value in 2018, as well as supporting over 7,500 direct jobs, according to a new report. The data, which was presented at the recent Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) conference, also highlights the potential to increase this contribution in future to $1.4 billion in economic value, and 13,000 jobs.

The report, commissioned by the RCA and funded by Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Recycling Management Authority, Beverage Container Management Board, and Cleanfarms, documents the type and scale of recycling in Alberta. The research, undertaken by Eunomia Research & Consulting, measures the economic and employment benefits the sector brings to the province, including job creation, wages, provincial tax benefit, capital investment and overall contribution to Alberta’s Gross Domestic Product.

“This report confirms Alberta’s recycling industry already provides significant value to our economy, and validates the additional value that would be created if Alberta expanded and enhanced its recycling systems to simply meet what is already achieved in other provinces,” said Jodi Tomchyshyn London, president of the RCA. “The bottom line is Alberta has an opportunity to capitalize on its waste generation and diversify its economy by moving swiftly to adopt progressive approaches that will see materials like packaging and paper effectively managed to become part of a circular economy.”

The study found that more residents had access to services than previously thought, with 75 per cent of all Alberta households able to access curbside recycling services, and 44 per cent also having access to organics diversion programs for recycling organic waste. In total, the research estimates that 1.15 million tonnes of material were diverted for recycling in 2018, an average of 260 kg per Alberta resident.

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Researchers also found that, despite the overall success of the sector, significantly more could be done to increase the amount of recycling. The analysis found that taking action to increase and diversify Alberta’s recycling programs could almost double the amount of material diverted for recycling.



“While it’s fantastic to see the economic benefits that the current recycling system provides to Alberta, it’s important to note that there are huge benefits to expanding current activities,” said Sarah Edwards, lead author of the report. “Alberta leads the way in the diversity of services it offers, and maximizing the potential of these will only increase the economic, employment and environmental benefits to the province.”

Highlights of the report:

  • 546,000 tonnes of residential recyclables were collected through curbside and depot services for recycling in Alberta in 2017, which resulted in 2,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs and provided $110 million in wages that contributed $210 million to the Alberta economy.
  • The current Alberta Paint Recycling Program results in 110 direct, indirect and induced jobs providing $6 million in wages and generating $12.5 million of gross value added (GVA) to the Alberta economy.
  • The Alberta Beverage Container Stewardship Program generates 2,280 direct, indirect and induced jobs and $142 million in GVA. The program estimates that 1.9 billion containers were returned resulting in 96,000 tonnes of material being recycled into new products.
  • The Alberta Electronics Recycling Program generates 320 jobs and over $33 million in GVA, processing over 12,000 tonnes of material for recycling.
  • The Alberta Tire Recycling Program generates 410 direct, indirect and induced jobs, contributing $49 million to the Alberta economy.
  • The Alberta Used Oil Materials Recycling Program generates 640 direct, indirect and induced jobs and $69 million in GVA from the collection and processing of oil, filters and plastic oil containers.
  • The Alberta Cleanfarms Stewardship Program generates 19 jobs and $2.4 million in GVA.
  • A total of 1.2 million tonnes of additional material could be recycled through improvements to current programs and introduction of new. This would result in 5,800 extra jobs and an additional $700 million in GVA.
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To read the full report, click here

Photo by Imthaz Ahamed,


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