Find out about the garbage and recycling problem in Yukon

  • Why is garbage and recycling a problem for Yukon?
  • What can you do about it?
  1. Why is garbage and recycling a problem for Yukon?

    Canadians are some of the largest producers of waste per capita in the world. Yukoners are right in line with the Canadian average. Yukoners produce approximately 1 tonne of waste per person per year. That includes garbage, recycling and organic waste.

    In 2013, a person living in Whitehorse made 37% more waste that they would have in 2000. This is significant because our population is also growing.

    It's important that we:

    • put less garbage in our landfills; and
    • pay to properly manage garbage and recycling.

    Waste takes up a lot of space

    • Garbage from all Yukon waste facilities ends up in the Whitehorse landfill.
    • If we don’t reduce our waste, the Whitehorse landfill will be full in about 30 years. Read the Whitehorse Solid Waste Action Plan.
    • When the landfill is full we will either have to:
      • expand it; or
      • create another landfill.
    • Governments and taxpayers will have to pay to close or create new landfills.

    Waste is pollution

    • When we create or expand waste facilities, we risk:
      • groundwater and surface water contamination;
      • deforestation;
      • plastic pollution; and
      • interfering with wildlife.
    • Waste causes environmental contamination, such as the spreading of microplastics in our waterways.
    • Waste that creates air or water pollution can cause human health issues.
    • If we use waste facilities that aren't properly funded, we increase the risk of pollution caused by waste.

    Waste costs money

    • Territorial and municipal governments in Yukon spend $11 million a year managing waste.
    • Closing the Whitehorse landfill and replacing it could cost up to $27 million.
    • The faster we fill waste facilities, the more money we will need to pay to expand or build new waste facilities.
    • Taxpayers and governments will pay the increasing costs of waste management.
    • Read the City of Whitehorse’s 2013 Solid Waste Action Plan for more information.

    Who pays for waste now?

    People who live in municipalities pay for waste management through:

    • tipping fees;
    • municipal taxes; or
    • waste management fees.

    Right now, people who live in unincorporated communities or who use rural waste facilities don’t pay any fees. This means municipal residents are covering the cost of processing everyone's waste.

    Every Yukoner needs to share the cost of waste management. To make sure this happens, tipping fees will be introduced at all Yukon waste facilities.

    Recycling in Yukon is not the best option

    We have to ship recyclables outside of the territory. This means:

    • recycling in Yukon is more expensive; and
    • we aren’t always sure what happens to our recyclables once those leave Yukon.

    Other issues include:

    • low-value recyclables such as soft plastics are expensive to recycle and may end up in incinerators; and
    • recyclables contaminated with food will end up in the landfill.

    Plastics are pollution

    Yukoners get rid of 6 350-kilogram bales of plastic each day. 1 of which is recycled, and 5 end up in the landfill.

    Find out more about plastic pollution from United Nations Environment.

     

  2. What can you do about it?

    Reduce your waste

    Learn how to reduce your garbage and recycling.

    Pay your part

    Paying your part to dispose of waste is the responsible thing to do. Paying will help cover the cost of managing waste and reduce the risk of polluting the environment.

    • Expect to pay tipping fees at all waste facilities.
    • Expect to pay a surcharge when you buy difficult-to-dispose-of items such as tires and electronics.

    Tipping fees will be introduced at select waste facilities in spring 2020. The fees will be rolled out across Yukon by 2022.

    Report illegal dumping

    Find out how to turn in polluters.

    Get involved in the conversation

    We often consult the public on how we should deal with difficult-to-dispose of items.

    Visit EngageYukon to see if we’re hosting any public conversations about waste.

    Volunteer to help

    You can help out with the waste problem by volunteering at your local waste facility's free store or recycling depot.

    Recycle

    Find a recycling facility.