Skip to main content

Sustainability Through an Inclusive Lens (STIL) increasing the accessibility of multi-stream waste disposal systems – A research report

In response to the climate crisis many municipalities are setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals and taking significant climate actions. As municipalities shape a sustainable future, it is important, however, that this is a future where everybody belongs. Therefore, considerations of equity and accessibility are important aspects in municipal climate action. An increasing number of innovations are emerging to support municipalities in integrating accessibility into their sustainability projects, including the focus of this report, the WasteFinder system developed by Sustainability Through an Inclusive Lens (STIL) Solutions.

STIL is a social enterprise that aims to enable and empower individuals with vision loss to participate in sustainability-focused initiatives, particularly independent waste disposal and management. STIL designed WasteFinder – a tactile and visual information system that is installed on the ground adjacent to waste disposal units and assists persons with vision loss to dispose of their waste independently and correctly. The City of Kitchener purchased and installed three WasteFinder systems at the Kitchener Market in 2021. The Viessman Centre for Engagement and Research in Sustainability (VERiS) at Wilfrid Laurier University received a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant in partnership with STIL to evaluate an early implementation of this system and the Kitchener Market was selected as a suitable case study. Market patrons/community members were surveyed pre- and post installation to gauge their perception of accessibility and sustainability features at the market, including potential barriers to proper waste sorting and disposal. In addition, pre-post focus groups and waste-audits were conducted. The purpose of this report is to explore how the WasteFinder system impacts the ability of persons with vision loss (and other disabilities) to participate in proper waste sorting and disposal as well as how the system impacted other market patrons’ awareness and waste sorting behaviour.

In this report, we will first address the current state of accessibility in sustainable policy among municipalities, providing additional context on STIL and the implementation context within the City of Kitchener. Then, we will provide a detailed overview of the current study, including explanations of the surveys, focus groups, and waste audits that were conducted. Finally, we will discuss the findings of the study as they relate to this specific implementation context, as well as the intersection between accessibility and sustainability in municipal actions more broadly. We will conclude with specific recommendations based on our findings.

Read full report

Unknown Spif - $key