Government of New Brunswick

In Canada, we have a large and resource-rich country to support a relatively small population. For years, it must have seemed like our wealth was endless. Maybe that's why Canada has developed into one of the most wasteful nations in the world. But resources are not unlimited,anywhere on Earth.

Fossil fuels and metal ores, such as tin, are among our "non-renewable" resources: we'll come to the end of them someday. We can't predict when it will happen, but we do know for certain that they'll eventually run out. And land is also in limited supply.

When we use land for garbage disposal, it becomes unavailable for more productive uses, such as growing food or supporting wildlife. Even our "renewable" resources can be depleted if we use them faster than nature can restore them. Trees need time to grow; fish and wildlife need to mature before they can reproduce.

We can't create brand-new resources after what we have is gone, or when pollution has made them unfit for our use. What we can do (and must do, if future generations are to have what they need) is to use our resources more efficiently: by wasting less and by creating less waste.

In New Brunswick, each of us produces half a tonne of garbage every year. The good news is that we're producing less waste now than we used to — about 40% less between 1989 and 2000. And from the perspective of environmental protection, we're handling our waste much more wisely than we once did.

Years ago, hundreds of unregulated dumpsites were scattered across New Brunswick. Any number of hazardous wastes were dropped off with household garbage. Odour and vermin problems were "solved" by open burning, which in turn created air pollution and risks for human health. Liquid running off the site wasn't contained, but was free to enter nearby lakes and streams, creating a potential threat to the drinking water supplies of neighbouring homes.

In response to growing public concern, the Province began to apply stricter environmental standards. New Brunswick's Solid Waste Management Plan (1987) established a series of Regional Solid Waste Commissions, each with the direct responsibility to manage waste in its own area.

Region by region, the old, unsafe dumps were eventually replaced by a province-wide network of engineered sanitary landfills and transfer stations. Curb-side garbage collection, long provided by municipalities, was expanded to include unincorporated areas when local dumps were closed.

After more than a decade of intense effort, and with the investment of over $75 million, New Brunswick now has one of the most environmentally sound waste disposal systems in Canada. And during the same period we made a good start on recycling - through private sector and voluntary efforts in communities across the province, and through some ground-breaking environmental legislation.

The Province's move toward integrated waste management has been evolving over many years. In 2001, "Waste Reduction and Diversion: An Action Plan for New Brunswick" outlined the Province's plans for management, reduction and diversion of solid waste over the next five years. It consists of a 10-point plan featuring key initiatives that will help shape New Brunswick's environmental and economic future.

Now we're ready to focus our efforts on waste reduction and diversion — to divert waste from our landfills by reducing the amount of waste generated, reusing materials which would otherwise become waste, and by recycling.


The "Three Rs" are not a new idea, of course. They reflect the money-wise habits of earlier generations, who turned old clothes into quilts, saved the turkey bones for soup, and found new uses for old bits of scrap metal. Now those habits are more important than ever, as New Brunswickers learn how we can save money, conserve resources, and contribute to a healthier environment... just by changing the way we look at waste.

The challenge we face is to live less wastefully, so our environment can support us in good health for many generations to come. Yes, it can seem overwhelming at times, but it takes just 3 steps to make a real difference! Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.