Examining the Role of Substantive Justice in Planning Controversial Facilities

Nino Antadze, Bucknell University


This article explores substantive justice within the context of planning controversial facilities. Using qualitative inquiry into three cases of planning waste incineration plants in Canada, this study goes beyond distributional understanding of environmental justice and investigates the role of substantive justice in environmental planning processes. The article concludes that substantive justice accounts are different from those related to distributional concerns, and play an important role in formulating actors' positions towards the proposed project. Substantive justice is associated with the fairness of the final outcome of the project regardless of its location, and has to do with the beliefs about different waste management options, and more specifically, about their environmental performance and influence on shaping the future of waste management systems. The findings of this research confirm the plurality of environmental justice accounts that go beyond the distributional concerns, and suggest that the focus of environmental discourse in waste management planning may be shifting from waste distribution to its prevention.