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Queen's University

Sustainability Office

Queen's expert examines Canada's waste future

August 21, 2012

A new research project is surveying the local community and exploring Kingston’s waste management practices in light of the city’s 60 to 70 per cent waste diversion target for 2012. Queen’s researcher Myra Hird (Environmental Studies) has developed an interdisciplinary research project with Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering), a world expert in landfill engineering. The project is called Canada’s Waste Flow and examines a wide range of waste issues.

“How do we flourish given we will always has waste?” says Dr. Hird. “We need to look at how we can more effectively reduce and reuse first and foremost, and look at technical means of non-diverted waste disposal (energy from waste, bioreactors, landfills) in the context of their total environmental impact and real level of safely that they provide to the public and the environment.”

Figuring out what to do with waste demands that we ask the deceptively simple questions what is waste, and what is our waste future? This research project is attempting to address these questions by exploring such diverse issues as how we understand the relationship between waste and identity, waste and value, our ethical responsibility with regard to waste and the environment, how Canadian cities negotiate waste disposal practices, waste and Aboriginal communities, especially in the arctic, the global movement of waste, especially from Canada to developing countries, and the production of waste from food processing, such as whey from cheese factories.

Working on the project with Dr. Hird and Dr. Rowe are Matthew Hayman (MA Sociology), Cassandra Kuyvenhoven (MA Sociology) and Scott Lougheed (MA Sociology).

Dr. Hird is also building a partnership with other researchers across Canada and universities in the United Kingdom.

Her research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

For more information and to fill out the survey visit Canada’s Waste Flow.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000