The Project

Context and  Goals

This project addresses the problem of insufficient waste diversion by investigating geographic variation in the uptake of various residential waste diversion policies and practices.  This includes waste to energy (WTE) - a set of technologies for diversion that treats residential waste as a resource for energy. We will be conducting and sharing the results of a series of social scientific studies at the intersection of municipal waste and energy policy and practice, according to the following four core objectives:

  1. To understand the range of policy actors’ perceptions about waste and associated infrastructure and facilities within policy development and governance processes;
  2. To understand the interrelations between waste and energy related policy drivers, scientific evidence related to impacts of incineration WTE, media coverage of WTE, and local contextual factors upon WTE decisions.
  3. To understand the role of the waste hierarchy in waste actors’ attitudes and behaviours towards WTE technologies.
  4. To contribute to conceptual/theoretical development in the geographies of waste literature by exploring such frameworks/theories as: actor network theory, socio-ecological systems thinking, the risk society, and policy learning through advocacy coalitions.

Canada is one of the highest per capita producers of waste in the developed world. Though waste hierarchy principles dictate that the proportion of waste disposed to landfill should be the smallest; in Ontario 56 per cent of residential waste is landfilled (Waste Diversion Ontario, 2011). Though Ontario has had a history of minimizing the incineration of waste, some municipalities are already utilising WTE to divert waste from landfill while others have WTE projects underway or under consideration  

We aim to understand the diversity of approaches to diversion by exploring the reasons various stakeholders give for waste management decisions- from institutional managers and policy makers to residents in their households.   Overall we hope to highlight both the facilitators and barriers to enhanced sustainability particularly at the intersection of waste and energy domains.

The Audience

The target audiences for this project are waste policy decision-makers and influencers (e.g., facility owners and managers, municipal government managers, local community groups, non-government organizations as well as academics involved in waste and energy resource governance issues.  Please see the connect page for further details.

Expected Contributions

 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 if and how to incorporate WTE into more sustainable waste management.  See the mobilize page for further details.


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