Study 1:  Explaining uneven uptake of waste to energy technologies by Ontario municipalities

Research Problem and Objectives

This is a qualitative, case comparative study of municipal solid waste management (MSW) and energy policy and practice in Ontario. It aims to critically assess how policy actors’ interpretations of the contingencies of MSW management and energy policy (such as human health and environmental impacts) affect their perceptions of and their decisions regarding various waste to energy (WTE) technologies. These technologies include incineration of residual waste and harnessing biogas (primarily methane) generated either by anaerobic digestion of source separated organic waste or anaerobic decomposition of biodegradable residual waste in landfills. This study will contribute to research objectives 1, 2 and 4.

Case Communities and Methodology

The case studies (Toronto, Durham, Peel) have been selected on the basis of differences in: type of WTE technology; stage of development of WTE facilities (e.g., existing, under construction) and; proximity of WTE facilities to the municipality.

Toronto: no incineration WTE, pending biogas-to-energy from landfill and anaerobic digestion

Durham: pending incineration WTE

Peel: existing and pending incineration WTE; existing landfill gas to energy

Our mixed methods design includes – interviews and policy content analysis within a grounded theory approach. Evidence will principally be gathered from interviews with waste and energy policy actors, that is, representatives from government, non-government, private business and local community organisations who actively participate in policy negotiations or public discourses related to waste or energy issues.  

Expected Contributions

The work will be of interest to a wide array of waste and energy policy actors including: waste managers, energy planners, sustainability advocates, politicians, residents and academics. By understanding the processes and structures that have shaped existing decisions we hope to enhance dialogue and highlight routes for more sustainable decision-making and practices around waste and energy. Further, this research will make substantive contributions to the geographies of waste, concerning how to incorporate WTE into more sustainable waste management.

Learn More

To learn more about this study please contact us, or sign up to receive notification of updates.


ReWaRP findings published in RCR Journal

People will divert less if they know their discards are going to an energy from waste facility. See the Publications secttion of the mobilize page to find a links to the article and to the paper. 08 April 2020See More

ReWaRP interviewed by CBC

The CBC interviewed Virginia Maclaren about diverting plastics and the use of waste-to-energy facilities. She cites our study findings and the Waste Management paper. See the mobilize page to find a links to the article and to the paper. 21 September 2018See More

Workshop presentation files posted The workshop was held last Thursday with 25 in-person participants and an additional 10 participating online via the webinar feed. We have posted the presentation files as pdf's, on the mobilize page 13 June 2016See More

Workshop/Webinar On June 9 we are hosting a workshop "Waste-to-Energy Policy and Perceptions Research Results" in Toronto. The goal is to bring together key stakeholders and share research findings for feedback and set an agenda for ongoing research and stakeholder interaction. Invitations have been sent out already. If you would like to participate and have not been sent an invite please email us: 19 May 2016See More

Study 2 first survey results published The data from waves 1 and 2 of the survey for study 2 will soon appear in the journal Waste Management 29 Feb 2016See More

Wave 3 of WtE survey mailed out A third wave of our survey has been mailed out to track longitudinal views on WtE, diversion and waste facilities. 13 Nov 2015See More

Researchers attend advisory committee meeting - On Sept. 30 Yvonne and Jennifer attended the Energy from Waste - Waste Management Advisory Committee (EFW-WMAC)to learn more about facility governance. 19 Oct 2014See More

Survey on waste-to-energy and diversion behaviours - This summer we sent out a postage-paid mail-back questionnaire to a random sample of residents living: i) near the Algonquin Power facility in Brampton, ii) near the Durham York Energy Centre, and iii) in Toronto. 15 Sept 2014See More

Solid Waste Management Partnerships Workshop - Virginia and Jamie participated in the Solid Waste Management Partnerships Workshop hosted by the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy. 24 June 2014See More

Alltreat farms - The research team paid a visit to the Alltreat composting facility in Arthur Ontario. 8 October 2013See More

Yvonne Ho - joins the research team. She will be conducting a survey based study for her 4th year... 5 September 2013See More

Fieldtrips – Yvonne, Virginia and Jamie visit Toronto’s Greenbin facility and the Algonquin Power waste... 24 July 2013See More

Yvonne R. has begun fieldwork for her PhD – conducting face-to-face in-depth interview with waste policy stakeholders. 2 July 2013See More