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Analyzing Ontario's Landfills: A Comparison of Northern and Southern Regions

Comparative Analysis of Landfill Operations in Northern and Southern Ontario: Uncovering Regional Differences in Waste Management Practices

Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, faces significant waste management challenges. With a booming population and numerous industries, effective waste management is critical to maintaining environmental health and sustainability. Landfills, while not the most desirable solution, are a significant part of Ontario's waste management strategy.

The Ontario government maintains a comprehensive dataset of approved landfills in the province. This dataset, provided by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, includes basic information on Ontario’s landfills such as their Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) number, operation status, and location (including the Ministry's region and district, client name, site name, site address, and site municipality). Please note that the size and capacity of landfills are not currently available, but may be included in future updates.

In this blog post, we delve into this dataset to explore and compare landfill operations in Northern and Southern Ontario.

Data Analysis

Our analysis focused on the operational status of landfills in Northern and Southern Ontario. We classified each landfill as being in either Northern or Southern Ontario based on the 'REGION' field in the dataset. For the purposes of our analysis, we considered landfills in the 'Northern' region as part of Northern Ontario, and all other landfills as part of Southern Ontario. It's worth noting that this is a simplification, and the actual geographical boundaries between Northern and Southern Ontario may be defined differently.

Our analysis revealed interesting patterns in landfill operations across the province:

  • Northern Ontario has a higher number of open landfill sites compared to Southern Ontario, with 392 open sites compared to Southern Ontario's 249.

  • In contrast, the number of closed landfill sites is roughly similar in both regions, with 891 closed sites in Northern Ontario and 926 in Southern Ontario.

These patterns suggest significant differences in waste management practices and regulations between Northern and Southern Ontario. The higher number of open landfill sites in Northern Ontario could be related to differences in population density, industrial activity, and local regulations, among other factors.

Visualizing the Data

To visualize these findings, we created a heatmap, a type of graphical representation where colors represent values. Our heatmap showed the number of landfill sites in Northern and Southern Ontario, differentiated by their operational status.

The heatmap clearly illustrated the higher number of open landfill sites in Northern Ontario compared to Southern Ontario, while also showing the comparable number of closed sites in both regions.


This analysis provides a valuable overview of landfill operations in Northern and Southern Ontario. While it's clear that there are more open landfill sites in Northern Ontario, the reasons behind this pattern are complex and likely involve a range of environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic factors.

Moving forward, it would be beneficial to have more detailed data on Ontario's landfills, including their size, capacity, the types of waste they accept, and the population of the surrounding area. This additional information would allow for a more nuanced understanding of waste management practices across the province.

This blog post was based on data from the Ontario Landfills dataset, provided by Ontario's Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. The dataset provides a comprehensive listing of approved landfills in Ontario and is part of the government's ongoing efforts to lead healthier communities and economic prosperity through protecting Ontario’s air, land, and water.


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