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Natalie Vasilivetsky

University of Guelph, MA Geography

EREF Scholar 2023

The Canadian Federal government has identified the transition from a linear to a circular economy as a critical step toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Murray et al. (2017) define a linear economy as “converting natural resources into waste via production.” It is well-documented that a linear system of waste leads to excessive landfilling, which leads to poor environmental and human health. Creating resource recovery systems which facilitate composting is essential to a circular economic system. In a landfill, food waste lacks access to the oxygen needed to undergo an aerobic decomposition process, leading to the production of methane gas. In Ontario, the IC&I (Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional) sector is responsible for 45% of food waste sent to landfills. No legislation or policy in Ontario mandates businesses and institutions to compost food waste. This research examines structural barriers to overhauling environmentally unsustainable waste systems in Ontario’s IC&I sector by testing the feasibility and replicability of The Guelph-Wellington IC&I Food Rescue and Waste Diversion Pilot (FRWDP). The FRWDP is a cooperative food waste reduction system managed by the Circular Innovation Council. This pilot provides organics hauling and food redistribution services for participating businesses and institutions. Findings from the FRWDP show significant potential for assisting governments and businesses in tackling procedural and regulatory gaps in IC&I sector organics waste management.


Natalie began her education at the University of Guelph, graduating in 2017 with a Hons. BA in Anthropology and Philosophy. She is currently pursuing her MA in Geography with Dr. Kate Parizeau in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at the University of Guelph. Natalie developed a keen interest in human-environment interactions and community-based environmental work during her undergraduate degree. Her research focuses on IC&I sector waste operations management, circular economy transition, and corporate waste reduction and sustainability practices. In addition to her role as a graduate student, she serves as the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Guelph. Her work focuses on the intersection of experiential learning and waste management. In this role, Natalie established and managed a large-scale composting program, diverting over 300,000kg of food waste from landfills to date. This program is operated and co-managed by students who take on leadership opportunities to address campus sustainability challenges. Her future career goals encompass sustainability consulting, education, and policy development. Outside of academia, Natalie is an avid birder, hiker, and radio show host.