Alberta’s recycling sector generated $700 million in economic value in 2018, as well as supporting over 7,500 direct jobs, our new analysis has found.

The analysis also highlights the potential to increase this contribution in future to $1.4 billion in economic value, and 13,000 jobs. In addition to the benefits to the Alberta economy, materials collected in Alberta that are processed and utilized in neighbouring jurisdictions provide additional jobs in those areas which were not included in the study.

The report, commissioned by the Recycling Council of Alberta 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. It 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 (GDP).

The study found that more residents had access to services than previously thought, with 75% of all Alberta households able to access curbside recycling services, and 44% also having access to organics diversion programmes 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 260kg per Alberta resident.

Our research also found that, despite the overall success of the sector, significantly more could be done to increase the amount of recycling taking place. The analysis found that taking action to increase and diversify Alberta’s recycling programs could almost double the amount of material being diverted for recycling, with the accompanying economic benefits.

Jodi Tomchyshyn London, President of the Recycling Council of Alberta, said:

“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. 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.”

Sarah Edwards, the lead author of the report, said:

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. Alberta leads the way in the diversity of services it offers, and maximising the potential of these will only increase the economic, employment and environmental benefits to the province.”

The results will be presented at the Recycling Council of Alberta conference, Sea Change, at the Jasper Park Lodge at 3:30 pm on October 2. For the full conference details and schedule visit the RCA website.

Photo courtesy of Luke Ratzlaff, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.