Study 4: Discourses in decision-making about organic waste: Governance in two Ontario municipalities.

Research Problem and Objectives

Most landfills have a limited life span capacity leaving municipalities to look to the future for sustainable options. As a sustainable strategy, the Ministry of the Environment (2004) set a goal of 60% diversion of waste from landfills. To achieve this diversion goal, many municipalities have implemented an organics source separation and curbside organics collection program (Green Bin) with varying success. However, there are limited comparative studies to understand why municipalities vary in the strategies to manage organic waste (landfill vs. composting). Thus, the primary objective is to uncover the predominant discourses that influence decision-making surrounding organic waste and to find out what role energy recovery may play in future or current planning.

Case Communities and Methodology

The case studies (London and Guelph) were selected to explore two Ontario municipalities with different organic waste management approaches; one municipality with a Green Bin program and one municipality without a Green Bin program. This study will add to the emerging literature on waste policy decisions using a qualitative comparative approach between two municipalities with different organic waste management approaches. The study will utilize interviews with key informants represented by governmental, non-governmental, and community organizations. The interviews will explore the key stakeholders’ discourses that directly influence decision-making in the separation of organics from the waste stream or landfill.

Expected Contributions

The proposed study sheds light theoretically on how residential organic disposal decision-making processes are made and sustained in terms of municipal governance. The study also contributes analytically by using discourse analysis to understand key decision-makers’ discourses/counter discourses surrounding organic waste disposal and the influence this may have on policy outcomes. The study aims to provide a practical understanding of how decision-makers’ view current or future waste management strategies to address energy recovery through technologies such as anaerobic digestion or waste to energy.

Learn More

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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