University of Regina researchers modelling how the pandemic is affecting our garbage generation

News Release Release Date: December 15, 2020 10:00 a.m.

Drs. Kelvin Tsun Wai Ng and Golam Kabir, with the Faculty of Engineering, have joined forces with the City of Regina to examine how the pandemic has affected the city’s garbage stream and to develop an improved waste generation model.

Ng anticipates the new model will help the City of Regina better plan and manage its landfill operations and that this research could form the basis for improved landfill management models in other places.

“I really hope that different groups of researchers in different places can use what we’ve done to build similar models, and, in the end, we can compare and combine model predictions, giving us, for example, a Regina model, a Toronto model, a New York model,” says Ng. “By working together, we may be able to create a more robust waste generation model that allows us to better predict our solid waste generation.”

The research involves mapping the number of active COVID-19 cases in Regina during specific time periods and comparing it to the amount of waste generated at those times. Ng will then be able build scenarios predicting trash totals based on the potential spread of the virus. The model will also help with waste management planning for other catastrophic events down the road.

The researchers have already been able to determine that the pandemic has had mixed impacts on the city’s waste stream.

“This year, compared to 2018 and 2019, we have seen a reduction in the city’s overall waste generation but an increase in household waste,” said Kabir. “This may be indicative of reduced commercial and industrial activity affecting the amount of waste these sectors generated, whereas household waste generation likely increased as people stayed home, visited fewer restaurants, and used more personal protective equipment, such as disposable masks, sanitizing wipes, and disinfectants.”

This research, which is being funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance Grant, is profiled in the latest edition of Discourse, the University’s research magazine. 

Interviews with Dr. Ng can be arranged via the listed media contact.


About the University of Regina

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,600 students study within the University's 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees. The University of Regina was named the Research University of the Year in 2020 (undergraduate category) by Research Infosource.


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