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Jillian Treadwell

McGill University, MS
Ice River Springs Master’s Scholarship for Sustainability Scholar 2016

Driving Factors for Organic Waste and Phosphorus Recycling: A quantitative analysis and scenario based modelProject Description:
The disposal of organic waste to landfill contributes to a one-way flow of nutrients through anthropogenic food and waste systems that can be both wasteful and inefficient. Recycling nutrients, such as phosphorus, from organic waste can contribute to the reduction of waste production, the conversion of waste into a resource, and the restoration of circular biogeochemical cycles. While there is no silver-bullet solution to our current dependence on synthetic fertilizers and associated disruptions to global nutrient cycles, organic waste management strategies such as composting and anaerobic digestion can facilitate the recycling and reuse of nutrients and contribute to a long-term, holistic solution. In recent years, increased diversion of organic waste from landfill to other, more sustainable options, has been presented as a policy goal in many regions, echoed in waste management plans at various governance levels. To promote this organic waste diversion, several policy and management instruments have been used however, the success of these programs varies vastly across regions, and little is known about what makes some regions more successful than others.

Jillian’s research aims to explore how socio-economic factors and management strategies have impacted organic waste diversion rates across Europe and Canada, as well as the impact this diversion has had on phosphorus recycling. Subsequently, using Montreal as a case study, the research assesses how current organic waste and phosphorus flows may change as a result of impending adjustments to policy and legislation in the area. Understanding how organic waste management strategies have unfolded in the past, and the impact of such strategies on organic waste diversion and recycling, can provide direction at a time when similar policies are gaining prevalence and momentum across North America. Furthermore, a clearer understanding of how phosphorus and other nutrients move in and through urban areas would help to evaluate the role of organic waste management in more sustainable nutrient management.

In 2013, Jillian completed her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia with a B.Sc. in Global Resource Systems where her studies were predominantly focused on environmental and climate sciences, sustainable development, and physical geography. During her undergraduate degree, Jillian completed a semester abroad at the CEMUS Centre for Sustainable Development at Uppsala University in Sweden. While at the University of British Columbia, she also completed an internship with Environmental Youth Alliance where she volunteered with students and teachers to facilitate environmental education in elementary schools through the use of school gardens. Following her undergraduate degree, Jillian went on to work for an environmental engineering consulting firm where she focused on alternative solid waste management.

Jillian is currently a master’s student at McGill University in the department of Bioresource Engineering. She is also working on a massive open online course (MOOC) regarding integrated cycles in wastewater and nutrient management in collaboration with Concordia University and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). More broadly, she interested in how we can make human systems more circular, resilient, and sustainable, and beyond that, how to make this science accessible so that these types of systems become more attainable.

Final Thesis