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.
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.
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.