Wagner's primary research area is sustainable materials management involving the identification and assessment of innovative policy approaches to sustainable materials management seeking to foster source reduction and recycling of wastes, including food wastes, through programmatic and behavior modifications. In addition, he examines the application of Extended Producer Responsibility to manage difficult-to-recycle materials and single-use consumer materials. He is currently a member of the Portland (Maine) Parks Commission, Recycling Committee for ecomaine. he has been a member of multiple ad hoc and termed committees supporting sustainability and solid waste management at the municipal level.
Examines the growth and variety of local government ordinances seeking to reduce the consumption of single use shopping bags and polystyrene food service items.
Examines the program and provides data and lessons learned. Maine was the first state to adopt producer responsibility to manage household electronic waste.
Investigates the reasons for improper disposal and proposed solutions. There has been a dramatic shift from incandescent to fluorescent lights, which has resulted in a significant reduction in energy consumption for lighting. However, fluorescent lights contain mercury and their improper disposal has significant environmental consequences.
Attempts to operationalize the concept for improved policy formulation and implementation , as many new state laws have adopted Extended Producer Responsibility to reduce municipal costs and foster improved recovery of materials. Many of these laws mandate that consumer collection program be convenient, but none have defined this subjective concept.
Examines the role of the container type (size, color, design, etc.) on recycling participation and collected volumes. It also reported on our national survey of current practices of containers at the municipal level.
Documents the first ever, successful mining operation of a landfill. The study demonstrated that there can be economic viability in landfill mining, but highlights the contradictory current practice of disposing of large amounts of high-value usable materials.
Presents the first ever study quantifying the cost of litter from a reliance on small, open-top recycling bins. A thesis of the study was that relying on small bins for recycling not only reduces the ability and interest to recycle, overflowing bins cause economic impacts thereby undermining a municipal recycling program.