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EREF and Ontario Waste Management Association working to strengthen funding of Canadian-based research and scholarships

EREF and Ontario Waste Management Association working to strengthen funding of Canadian-based research and scholarships

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) and the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) have been working in partnership on an initiative designed to provide a more effective means to facilitate, evaluate and oversee direct independent scientific research and educational initiatives of specific interest to waste management and recycling professionals in Canada. 

A half-day session was held on March 2, 2017, which focused on strengthening the funding of Canadian-based research and scholarships in support of sustainable materials management. According to EREF, both associations were pleased to have waste management professionals, municipal officials and regulators, who travelled from across the country, participate in the important event and work together on finding ways to better coordinate efforts to conduct and promote academic research. 

The purpose of the meeting in March was to explore the work the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is undertaking in the United States, and discuss the development of a Canadian research platform that would meet the needs of the waste management sector.  

The Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) began the day by explaining the initial impetus to address the research needs of the waste management sector. The OWMA does some research, but it is not a core competency of the association and does not extend beyond Ontario into other Canadian jurisdictions. A significant amount work was done to look at different models to support the needs of its members.  In the end, the OWMA agreed to an agreement with EREF as a means to provide a platform for supporting national research that would benefit all Canadian provinces and territories.  The platform has many advantages, including: 
• Provides a neutral platform for private and public organizations across the country to collaborate on issues of joint interests; 
• Structure has already been developed, which many Canadian companies with linkages to the United States already have a familiarity with; 
• Provides linkages to other North American research; and 
• Facilitating, overseeing and funding academic research is EREF's core competency. 
The OWMA explained that a number of potential concerns have been addressed in the initial Memorandum of Understanding between EREF and the OWMA to ensure a separate Canadian research advisory council is created; EREF receives Canadian charitable status; and Canadian research funds are kept within Canada.  It also discussed areas that it saw as potential areas of research for collaboration including technology, health and safety, end markets, behavioural economics, optimization of operations, environmental controls and data/definitions/metrics. 

EREF followed by explaining how their model operates and the linkages already in place with Canadian academic institutions and Canadian organizations.  They discussed in detail some of the diverse projects they have and continue to be involved in.  Dr. Bruce Wilson from University of New Brunswick, an EREF board member, also provided his prospective of the organization and strengthening Canadian-based research. 

The day concluded with a presentation by Jillian Treadwell, an EREF scholar from McGill University, who is doing quantitative research on organic waste and phosphorus recycling and has developed a scenario-based model. 

The group had a long discussion on the structure of the Canadian research advisory council and research needs.  As a follow-up to these discussion,a survey has been developed to examine some of the discussion areas in more detail and to receive additional feedback.  Both organizations encourage participation from all interested parties. 

The survey can be found here.

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