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How wasteful are Canadians? You may be surprised

Canadians throw away more garbage, on a per capita basis, than people in any other developed country in the world, according to a new report.

The Conference Board of Canada released a report Thursday that shows Canadians don't rank very well when it comes to conservation of energy and water, either.

Over all, the report places Canada in 15th place out of 17 countries when it comes to environmental performance.

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Canada generated 777 kilograms of municipal waste per capita in 2008, much more than the overall average for the countries involved in the study, 578 kilograms. Although some of the waste was diverted to recycling or composting, much of it ended up in landfill.

The report found the growing amount of municpal waste produced in Canada is tied to increases in household revenue and rising urbanization in recent decades. And if Canadians don't change their wasteful habits, it could have long-term impacts.

"Canada cannot keep growing its economy at the expense of the environment," the report says. "Encouraging sustainable consumption patterns will continue to be a challenge."

Canada also uses much more water than other developed countries. The report found that water wtihdrawals in this country are almost double the average for others involved in the study. That's a huge issue that could affect the sustainability of Canada's water supply.

The report did deliver some good news, however, namely that Canada has a low number of "threatened species" in proportion to all animal species in the country and that forestry resources are used responsibly.

But while greenhouse gas emissions fell in Canada nearly 5 per cent from 1990 to 2010, the country still has high emissions per capita and is a huge consumer of energy resources relative to other countries.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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