Closing the Loop, or Running in Circles? Assessing Food Waste Policy in Ontario

DeLorenzo, Amy
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University of Guelph

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change seeks to legislate diverse waste streams (including food waste) by implementing Bill 151, known colloquially as the Waste Free Ontario Act. This research seeks to understand how different members of the food value chain both perceive legislation and align themselves in the creation and treatment of waste. Using social field theory, ecological modernization, and discard studies, this research uncovers lines of tension that may exist in the implementation of a broader waste policy. These lines of tension go beyond typical political ideologies. Instead, they illuminate how different sectors view waste: signalling an efficient vs. inefficient economy; what appropriate mechanisms for treating waste are: fines/bans vs. incentives; and which areas each sector prioritizes: the economy vs. the environment, food safety vs. responsible resource use. Ultimately, this research asserts that until these tensions are resolved, waste legislation will continue to stall in Ontario.

food waste, policy, circular economy, discard studies, ecological modernization, social field theory, line of tension