Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Recycling and Waste

Solid Waste-Resource Management Strategy

October 27, 1995

Table of Contents

Section 1: Waste Diversion

Section 2: Regional Cooperation

Section 3: Education and Awareness

Executive Summary

The Government and People of Nova Scotia are committed to sustaining a healthy environment and a vibrant economy. Consistent with this commitment, there has been a fundamental shift in the way we view solid waste. It is now recognized that solid waste is a resource that can result in the creation of jobs through cost effective and environmentally responsible management.

Nova Scotia is committed to achieving a national target of 50% waste diversion by the year 2000. In order to achieve this goal, the Department of the Environment, after extensive consultation with municipal governments and the people of Nova Scotia, has developed a forward-looking "Solid Waste-Resource Management Strategy." The Strategy will ensure that the people of this province receive the maximum environmental and economic benefits while minimizing the potential increases in the cost of managing solid waste.

The Solid Waste Resource Management Strategy for Nova Scotia will include these benefits:

  • Bans on the disposal of beverage containers, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, scrap tires, used oil, lead-acid batteries, waste paint, automotive antifreeze, glass food containers, steel/tin cans, selected plastics and compostable organic materials.
  • Expansion of the current deposit/refund system on beer and liquor bottles to include all beverage containers with the exception of milk. Milk containers will be recycled through province-wide collection programs.
  • The number of active landfills will be reduced by approximately 75 percent. Currently, there are 40 active landfills in the Province. All landfills will have to meet the Department of the Environment's new stricter guidelines to prevent leachate and other problems associated with the current variety.
  • In order to ensure that cost increases are minimized, municipal units will be encouraged to cooperate on a regional scale. It is recommended seven solid waste resource management regions be established.
  • The Department of the Environment estimates the Strategy will cost each Nova Scotian an additional 50 cents a week.
  • Solid waste resources will be used to create new employment in Nova Scotia through the production of value-added goods. The Department of the Environment and the Resource Recovery Fund are working on plans to use scrap tires as the feedstock for a reprocessing plant. Other innovative plans include composting and Nova Scotia-based reprocessing of plastics, corrugated cardboard, disposable diapers and aseptic containers, such as juice packs. The Strategy will create approximately 600 jobs in recycling, collection and environmental industries. These jobs will be primarily in the private sector.
  • The Resource Recovery Fund will be a private sector, industry driven, non-profit organization. It will be charged with the marketing of recyclable materials in order to ensure Nova Scotia's environmental industries have a critical mass of feedstock from domestic sources. These materials will be used to establish industries based on the processing of recyclables.
  • The Strategy will involve diversion of 60 to 70 percent of household hazardous waste from disposal facilities.
  • The innovative environmental technologies developed for use in Nova Scotia will be marketed to other jurisdictions that are facing the same challenges.


In a consumer society, most commodities, once no longer used for their intended purpose, have traditionally been discarded. The implications of this "throw away" mentality are profound. In recent years, Nova Scotians have begun to recognize these implications and have taken aggressive action to change their practices and attitudes towards waste.

Reducing the amount of waste we generate, identifying opportunities for the recovery of valuable resources, encouraging the development and commercialization of new technologies, and taking necessary action to secure a sustainable future are among the challenges we face today and in the years ahead.

The Solid Waste-Resource Management Strategy for Nova Scotia is premised on:

  • environmental protection and ecological value
  • wise and efficient use of renewable and non-renewable resources
  • economic opportunities through the development of a vibrant environmental industries sector.

A number of critical milestones, including the Sustainable Development Strategy for Nova Scotia, the recent review and consolidation of Nova Scotia's environmental legislation, the completion of four regional solid waste management studies and recent public consultations on resource recovery and solid waste management, provide a backdrop and historical context for this Strategy. These milestones are outlined briefly below.

  • In October 1992, the Province of Nova Scotia accepted and endorsed the Sustainable Development Strategy for Nova Scotia.

    A goal of 50 percent diversion of solid waste by the year 2000 has been formally adopted in the new Environment Act. The best estimate for waste generation in Nova Scotia, using 1989 as a base year, is 623,000 tonnes per year. This means that over 311,000 tonnes per year must be diverted in just over four years.

    The new Environment Act also requires Government to develop a Solid Waste Management Strategy for Nova Scotia.

  • In 1993, the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, in conjunction with the municipalities, commissioned a series of studies on municipal solid waste management in the Province. These studies were performed in each of four regions. The results of these studies, completed in 1994, indicate that certain efficiencies and economies of scale can be realized through collaborative efforts at a regional or inter-municipal level.

  • In July 1994, the Province of Nova Scotia released a discussion paper on solid waste management to serve as a framework for generating dialogue throughout the Province. This discussion paper was based on three basic goals for resource recovery and solid waste management: 50 percent waste diversion by the year 2000, improved environmental performance at waste disposal facilities and regional cooperation to minimize the costs associated with resource recovery and solid waste management. Government recognized that in order to succeed in the development of a provincial Strategy, widespread consultation must occur to ensure that diverse needs were identified and addressed.

    The Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, in co-operation with the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation, held seven public meetings across the Province to solicit input from diverse sources, including the general public, non-government organizations, the private sector and municipal government. Through these consultations, it became abundantly clear that Nova Scotians are united in calling for:

    • recognition of solid waste as a resource;
    • equitable and consistent enforcement of regulations;
    • greater emphasis on public education and awareness;
    • shared responsibility and stewardship; and
    • regional cooperation to achieve diversion targets and objectives for environmental protection, taking into account municipal concerns.

Section 1: Waste Diversion

There are five key components of waste diversion: source reduction, material reuse, recycling, composting, and business development.

Source Reduction - Reducing the amount of waste generated at source is the key to effective waste management. Source reduction can be achieved through elimination of excess packaging, production of more durable goods, and promotion of responsible consumer packaging.

Material Reuse - Post-industrial and post-consumer reuse of materials in their original form can displace the need for new production. Examples of material reuse include: refillable beverage containers, rechargeable batteries, reusable laser-printer cartridges and the recovery of reusable doors and window frames from construction and demolition debris.1

Recycling - Recycling or reprocessing of post-industrial and post-consumer residuals can displace the need for virgin material in the production of new consumer goods. For example, newsprint, corrugated cardboard and bond paper can be recycled to displace much of the virgin fibre used in the production of new paper products. Plastics, metals and glass can also be recovered from the waste stream and recycled as new products.2

Composting - Most organic material, including fruit and vegetable wastes and many non-recyclable paper products, can be broken down to humus through decomposition. Compost can be used as a soil amendment or as a cover material on disturbed lands.

Business Development - The challenge of waste diversion will generate an increased demand for innovative and efficient approaches to achieving diversion targets. This demand can be met by encouraging and supporting the development and commercialization of new "made-in-Nova Scotia" technologies and services.

Achieving Waste Diversion Goals

The Government of Nova Scotia will:

  • implement a province-wide ban on the disposal of beverage containers, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, lead-acid (automotive) batteries, scrap tires, used oil and leaf and yard waste in the short term; and waste paint, ethylene glycol (automotive antifreeze), selected plastics, steel/tin food containers, glass food containers and compostable organic material from industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sources over the longer term;3
  • require refillable or recyclable containers for all beverages sold in Nova Scotia;
  • expand the current deposit/refund system covering liquor, wine and beer containers to include all ready-to-serve beverage containers, excluding milk;
  • require municipal waste management regions to achieve a minimum of 50 percent diversion by the year 2000;
  • work at the national level to address source reduction and the management of household hazardous wastes through initiatives undertaken by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (National Packaging Protocol and the Task Group on Household Hazardous Wastes);
  • require the operators of convenience stores, vending and fast food outlets as well as organizers of public and private events to provide receptacles for both litter and recyclable materials; and develop a pollution prevention strategy to promote source reduction.

Economic Opportunities

The demand for innovative solutions to the challenges of waste management and resource recovery is growing rapidly. We are only beginning to realize the economic opportunities and export potential that this demand represents.

Environmental industries in this Province generate over $280 million in annual revenues and employ 2,500 people in 400 firms. Revenues in this sector are expected to increase by ten percent annually and double by the year 2000 (Industry Canada 1994).

Solid waste management is widely recognized as one of the fastest growing segments of the environmental industries sector. Recognition of the principles of sustainable development and efforts to improve resource recovery and waste management practices, combined with the value of recovered materials, have generated opportunities for a number of innovative Nova Scotia firms.

Implementation of this Strategy will result in the creation of approximately 600 new jobs for Nova Scotians through the expansion of diversion programs, industry stewardship initiatives and the manufacturing of value-added goods from recovered materials. Tables 1 and 2 compare current and projected estimates of employment associated with diversion programs and value-added manufacturing.

Table 1: Employment from Diversion Programs
  1995 2000 Net Increase (1995-2000)
Source reduction 80 7 260
Recycling 197
Composting 136
Deposit/refund system 230 430 2004
Total 310 770 460
Table 2: Employment from Value-added Manufacturing
  1995 2000 Net Increase (1995-2000)
Processing scrap tires 0 50 50
Processing recovered plastics 0 50 50
Processing recovered fibre 325 375 50
Total 325 475 150

To fully develop Nova Scotia's environmental industries sector, the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment recently established the Environmental Technologies Entrepreneurship Program. This program is supported by a private-sector Management Consortium, working with the newly formed Environmental Industries and Technologies Division within the Department. The program will act as a critical link in business development by facilitating access to technical, regulatory, financial, educational and management services. The program provides industry, government and academia with services in the following areas:

  • technical and marketing information;
  • technology assessments;
  • promotion and demonstration of new technologies through pilot projects;
  • marketing assistance and business mentorship; and
  • commercialization and investment assistance.

The potential for Nova Scotia's environmental industries to become leaders in the field of solid waste management, with the support of a comprehensive Solid Waste-Resource Management Strategy, has never been greater. To exploit this potential, the Government of Nova Scotia, through the Environmental Technologies Entrepreneurship Program and the Resource Recovery Fund, will work in conjunction with the private sector to establish locally-based businesses to:

  • produce value-added products with an initial emphasis on compost, corrugated cardboard and plastics; and
  • re-process scrap tires and household hazardous waste such as used motor oil and waste paints.


Three fundamental principles - "polluter pays", "product stewardship", and "shared responsibility" - entrenched in the Environment Act, together with Government's commitment to encourage the development and commercialization of innovative environmental products, services and technologies, underlie the objectives of this Strategy. These principles confer, upon both producers and consumers, an obligation to assume responsibility for the post-industrial and post-consumer fate of all goods and materials. Many materials, such as used motor oil, spent industrial lubricants, lead-acid (automotive) batteries, ethylene glycol (automotive antifreeze), scrap tires and other household hazardous wastes, including waste paint, are amenable to industry managed stewardship initiatives designed to maximize diversion.

A stewardship program for used oil in Nova Scotia is currently being implemented. This program builds on the infrastructure for used oil collection and reprocessing already established by innovative Nova Scotia firms and the efforts of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute to propose an effective stewardship model.

Opportunities to develop similar programs for waste paint, scrap tires, and other materials are being explored. Stewardship programs for waste paint and used oil alone will result in a 60 to 70 percent diversion of household hazardous waste entering the municipal solid waste stream.

To support industry stewardship initiatives the Government of Nova Scotia will:

  • expand the current deposit/refund system covering liquor, wine and beer containers to include all ready-to-serve beverage containers, excluding milk containers;
  • provide the RRF with the authority to lead in the development of province-wide industry stewardship programs to recover and re-process household hazardous waste and other problem materials entering the municipal solid waste stream, including waste paint, used motor oil, lead-acid (automotive) batteries, ethylene glycol (automotive antifreeze) and scrap tires;
  • expand the government recycling program to include all government offices and target office paper, newsprint, beverage containers and other food packaging, and plastic bags; and
  • adopt a government-wide, environmentally-responsible procurement policy to ensure that government purchases meet the federal Environmental Choice Guidelines, wherever feasible, and that government tendered construction and demolition contracts specify terms for the appropriate disposal of construction and demolition wastes.

Resource Recovery Fund

The Resource Recovery Fund (RRF) Board will be incorporated as a non-profit organization and given a new orientation to actively develop locally-based opportunities for "closing the waste loop" in Nova Scotia. The RRF will play a pivotal role in penetrating new markets for materials diverted from the waste stream through the establishment of a Nova Scotia-based reprocessing capacity.

For years, Nova Scotia has been recycling, but resources recovered from the waste stream and associated jobs have all too often been exported out of the Province. To better exploit the economic opportunities that improved waste management and resource recovery present, membership on the RRF Board will reflect the interests of resident Nova Scotia industries. The Board will provide incentives for municipalities to enter into agreements to secure the volumes of recovered materials needed to support reprocessing and remanufacturing in Nova Scotia.

To ensure the success of waste diversion initiatives and to support domestic reprocessing of recovered materials, the RRF will:

  • solicit industry contributions to support diversion initiatives and locally-based recycling;
  • administer a program for the collection and reprocessing of scrap tires;
  • in conjunction with the private sector, municipalities and the Environmental Technologies Initiative, identify end markets and develop a locally-based recycling capacity for materials recovered from the waste stream through municipal diversion programs, with plastics, corrugated cardboard and compost receiving priority attention;
  • assist in the establishment of new businesses by providing funding for research and development;
  • direct 50 percent of its net revenues to waste management regions based on the tonnage of material diverted from the waste stream allowing municipalities to manage these funds to meet regional targets for diversion;
  • direct the remaining 50 percent of net revenues to programs such as public education and awareness, research and development and industry start-up;
  • provide funding to municipal governments to employ regional waste reduction coordinators;
  • fund the development of generic education materials to encourage high levels of participation in waste diversion programs;
  • enhance the province-wide network of depots for the collection of a broad range of materials, including beverage containers, corrugated cardboard and newsprint;
  • develop and administer the beverage container deposit/refund system and industry stewardship agreements; and
  • play a key role in ensuring a high rate of recovery for beverage containers through an expanded deposit/refund system and identify local end markets for recovered beverage containers and materials collected through a province-wide network of recycling depots.

Section 2: Regional Cooperation

During the fall 1994 consultations on solid waste, the public strongly agreed that waste management facilities should be operated to ensure appropriate levels of environmental protection. Efforts to achieve diversion targets and to comply with appropriate environmental standards will require increased expenditures for resource recovery and solid waste management. Table 3 lists current and projected annual costs for both diversion and disposal of municipal solid waste on a province-wide basis.

Table 3: Costs of Resource Recovery and Solid Waste Management
(7 percent diversion)
(50 percent diversion)
Incremental Change (1995-2005)
Diversion $4.7 million $32.9 million $28.2 million
Disposal $39.6 million $33.7 million -$5.9 million
Total $44.3 million ($48/person) $66.6 million ($72/person) $22.3 million ($24/person)5

Recognizing that public funds must be administered judiciously, the establishment of efficient economies of scale, through regional cooperation and planning, is imperative. Regional solid waste management studies completed in 1994 indicate that significant savings can be achieved through the establishment of regional disposal sites. In general, the capital and operating costs of regional disposal facilities are lower per tonne of solid waste.

To meet the goals of this Strategy, specifically the goal of improved environmental performance at disposal facilities, in an efficient and cost effective manner, regional cooperation is imperative. This Strategy establishes seven solid waste-resource management regions and the commitment of the province to work closely with the regions to ensure the objectives of the strategy are achieved. Minor adjustments to regional boundaries will be considered as local circumstances warrant. The seven regions are outlined in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Solid Waste Resource Management Regions

solid waste resource regional map
  1. Cape Breton: Counties of Cape Breton, Inverness, Victoria and Richmond
  2. Eastern: Counties of Antigonish, Pictou and Guysborough
  3. Northern: Counties of Colchester and Cumberland, District of East Hants
  4. Halifax: County of Halifax
  5. Valley: Counties of Annapolis and Kings
  6. South Shore: Counties of Lunenburg and Queens, District of Hants West
  7. Western: Counties of Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth

Achieving Regional Cooperation

During public consultation, it was clear that the Province and municipal governments alike agreed that regional economies of scale must be established. Through regional cooperation, increases in capital and operating costs associated with meeting environmental standards for waste disposal and achieving higher levels of waste diversion can be minimized.

To support regional cooperation, the Government of Nova Scotia will:

  • establish waste management regions as described above;
  • provide each region with a broad range of options to achieve the regional target of 50 percent waste diversion; and
  • work closely with each region to assist in the development of long term regional plans to achieve 50 percent diversion and sound environmental practices at regional disposal facilities.

Improved Performance of Disposal Systems

While the Strategy encourages maximum waste diversion and reinforces a minimum target of 50 percent diversion by the year 2000, disposal of a certain volume of the waste stream through landfilling or incineration will remain a reality for waste management. A principal goal of this Strategy is to minimize or eliminate the risk of any significant adverse effects associated with the operation of solid waste disposal facilities.

The Province will play a prominent role in developing and implementing environmental standards for waste disposal facilities designed to achieve the high level of environmental protection that Nova Scotians demand and expect. These standards will invite and encourage the development of innovative new products and processes for waste disposal. To exploit potential opportunities, the Province will actively support the commercialization of new products and processes for application both at home and abroad.

To address the public's expectations of appropriate waste management practises, the Government of Nova Scotia will do the following:

  • prohibit open burning (teepee, pit and silo burners) by April 1, 1996;
  • require energy generation to be a component for all municipally operated solid waste incinerators;
  • ensure that proposed incinerators do not, in any way, compromise opportunities for recycling or reprocessing materials;
  • ensure that all incinerators function in accordance with provincial operating standards;
  • implement new guidelines for the design and operation of landfills; and
  • adopt and implement the recommendations of the Report on the Management of Construction and Demolition Waste prepared in 1995 for the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, and the Metropolitan Authority.

The actions listed above will result in a 75 percent reduction in the number of sites for the disposal of municipal solid waste in Nova Scotia.

Section 3: Education and Awareness

Consistent with the principle of shared responsibility, each of us, as individuals, must strive to limit the amount of waste we generate. To provide Nova Scotians with the information and encouragement necessary to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost effectively, educational materials must be developed and made readily accessible. Many of these materials will need to be developed at the local or regional level and designed specifically to encourage full participation in multi-diversion programs, including curbside and household hazardous waste collection. In recognition of this, each regional plan will include a communications and education strategy. The Resource Recovery Fund will provide financial assistance to municipalities to develop educational materials.

Beyond providing individual Nova Scotians with information on local waste diversion programs, the RRF will develop an overall communications strategy designed to:

  • increase awareness of waste management issues and encourage a conservation ethic by making better use of information related to consumer choices and tips on reducing waste and material reuse;
  • encourage community stewardship initiatives to address illegal dumping;
  • provide ready access to materials, explaining waste diversion goals and individual responsibility;
  • coordinate education activities of industry and other levels of government to identify efficient and cost effective approaches to achieving the goals and objectives of this Strategy; and
  • ensure that retailers show the amount of a beverage container deposit on sales receipts and post the location of recycling depots.


Presented with today's challenges for solid waste management, Nova Scotia is determined to meet the target of 50 percent waste diversion by the year 2000 and will ensure that appropriate environmental guidelines for waste disposal are fully implemented across the Province within ten years. The cost effective achievement of these goals will require the cooperation and commitment of all stakeholders, strong government leadership and coordinated regional planning. While the overall costs of waste management will increase, the benefits of improved waste management will far outweigh these costs. In addition, significant new opportunities for economic development and job creation will result from the implementation of this Strategy.

Government is committed to ensuring that this Strategy keeps pace with emerging recycling technologies and public expectations for improved waste management by conducting a comprehensive review of the Strategy in the year 2000.

Action Plan

Resource Recovery and Solid Waste Management Regulations
Release draft regulations for public review and comment Pending Cabinet approval
Thirty-day public review period closes
Regulations in effect
RRF Stewardship Programs and Industry Agreements
Deposit/refund system for ready-to-serve beverage containers, excluding milk containers Mar 31, 1996
Corrugated cardboard Mar 31, 1996
Newsprint Mar 31, 1996
Plastics Mar 31, 1996
Derelict vehicles Mar 31, 1996
Lead-acid (automotive) batteries Mar 31, 1996
Scrap tires Mar 31, 1996
Used oil (establish network of return facilities) Apr 1, 1996
Waste paint Mar 31, 1997
Ethylene glycol (automotive) Mar 31, 1997
Provincial Government Waste Reduction Programs
Environmentally responsible procurement policy for government Jan 1, 1996
Government-wide recycling program Apr 1, 1996
Disposal Bans
Prohibition on open burning Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on redeemed beverage containers Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on corrugated cardboard Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on newsprint Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on scrap tires Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on lead-acid batteries Apr 1, 1996
Disposal ban on leaf and yard waste Jun 1, 1996
Disposal ban on waste paint Apr 1, 1997
Disposal ban on ethylene glycol (automotive antifreeze) Apr 1, 1997
Disposal ban on compostable organic material (industrial, commercial, institutional and residential) Nov 30, 1998
Disposal ban on steel/tin food containers Sep 1, 1998
Disposal ban on glass food containers Sep 1, 1998
Disposal ban on low-density polyethylene plastic bags and high-density polyethylene plastics Sep 1, 1998
Regional Cooperation
Delineate regional boundaries Defined in Strategy
Finalize landfill guidelines Dec 31, 1995
Finalize guidelines for the management of construction and demolition waste Dec 31, 1995
Develop and submit draft regional solid waste management and resource recovery plans Mar 1, 1997
Review and revise regional plans May 1, 1997
Establish regional disposal facilities which meet or exceed provincial standards Dec 31, 2005
Strategic Goals
Achieve 50 percent diversion target Dec 31, 2000
Meet new disposal standards Dec 31, 2005
Initiate a comprehensive review of the Strategy Jan 1, 2000
  1. For the purposes of this Strategy, the use of construction and demolition waste as fill for the rehabilitation of disturbed sites or as a substitute for virgin materials in road building is diversion.
  2. For the purposes of this Strategy, incineration with or without energy recovery is not diversion.
  3. A number of municipal units have imposed bans on the disposal of used oil, waste paint and ethylene glycol. The Strategy will make these bans province-wide.
  4. The estimate of 200 new jobs associated with an expanded deposit/refund system is conservative. Certain industry sectors are forecasting higher estimates for job creation.
  5. The cost estimates for waste management are average costs for Nova Scotia. Actual costs may vary from municipality to municipality.