Impacts of COVID-19 on Municipal Solid Waste Systems in Ontario, Canada: A Retrospective Reflection of Learnings from Municipalities
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Over the last decade, Ontario’s waste management industry has been under immense strain that could be considered a crisis. Between high waste generation, rapidly depleting landfill space, and land availability to replenish this diminishing resource, effective waste diversion must be a priority for Ontario municipalities. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic added yet another challenge to effective waste diversion as individuals attempted to cope with the pandemic. Between increased waste (such as single-use plastics from online shopping) and changes in waste operations, studies conducted towards the beginning of the pandemic showed the global influence of the COVID-19 virus on waste systems as the pandemic unfolded. This research aims to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on municipal solid waste management in Ontario. Specifically, this study will provide first-hand accounts from Ontario municipalities regarding their experiences managing municipal solid waste during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, this study will examine these experiences through a retrospective lens and allow municipalities to provide their learnings and perspectives on the impact of the virus in a post-COVID-19 context. A survey that compared the experience of managing waste in a pre-, during, and post-COVID-19 context was sent out to 306 municipalities in Ontario. The data collected from the survey was triangulated with secondary waste tonnage data from 2019, 2020, and 2021 collected by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority. It was found that while Ontario had to make many of the same pandemic adaptations that were produced globally, the long-term impacts were not as severe as they were during the early onset of the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted waste operations and policy more than waste generation and composition in Ontario.
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Michelle Giesbrecht (2023). Impacts of COVID-19 on Municipal Solid Waste Systems in Ontario, Canada: A Retrospective Reflection of Learnings from Municipalities. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19892