Sustainable cities: Examining the relationship between neighbourhood composition and recycling patterns in Canadian cities


  • Junghoon (Dennis) Lee Department of Sociology and Department of Geography, University of Calgary
  • Jenny Godley Department of Sociology, University of Calgary


sustainability, recycling, urban sociology, Canada


This paper explores the relationship between urban design and household recycling practices in Canadian cities. A growing body of research links urban design with residents’ transportation behaviour, such as rates of driving and use of public transportation. However, the effect of urban design on other forms of environmentally sustainable behaviour has not been as widely explored. Recycling is an important aspect of sustainability and the recycling activities of urban residents require further attention. We examine the relationship between urban design and recycling practices at the census metropolitan area (CMA) level in Canada using aggregated data merged from three secondary sources: the 2005–2006 Household and the Environment Survey conducted by Statistics Canada; the 2006 Census; and Gordon and Shirokoff’s (2014) classification of Canada’s urban neighbourhoods. The results demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between urban development patterns and household recycling practices at the CMA-level, when controlling for demographic factors. We conclude that urban design is related to residents’ sustainability behaviours in multiple, complex ways.