ECCC workshop explores Reducing Food Loss and Waste in Canada

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Author: Josie Di Felice

Posted: April 22, 2019

Categories: GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Members / News from Sustain Ontario

shared by Vandita Marwah – Ecosource

On February 28th, members of Sustain Ontario had the opportunity to attend Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) workshop on Reducing Food Loss and Waste in Canada, hosted by Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton. This workshop brought together groups from across the country to provide feedback on the federal government’s efforts to address food loss and waste, including a draft of their report “Taking Stock: Reducing Food Loss and Waste in Canada.”

ECCC began the day by highlighting their focus on reducing greenhouse gases and the direct impact reducing food loss and waste has on this goal. One of the challenges for all levels of government is accurately measuring the current levels of wasted food to inform the development of policies and programs, national targets for reduction, and reporting on Canada’s progress internationally. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation is making advances towards this and recently published “Why and How to Measure Food Loss and Waste – A Practical Guide” prepared by the World Resources Institute.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment shared the province’s data which showed about 100 kg of avoidable food waste per person per year. This amount represents 25% of the curbside waste collected. The Ministry is attempting to connect the messaging of food loss to money loss. According to the data they collected and analyzed, every 10 kg of food waste avoided saves $9 in disposal costs. This ultimately shows that for every $1 spent on reduction in food loss results in $2.75 saved. This information could lead to less wasteful practices throughout the supply chain.

As one of the municipalities that participated in Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s work on Circular Economy, the City of Guelph continues to make progress towards reducing their food loss and waste. With their 2014 Solid Waste Management Master Plan due for an update this year, and the goal of having a circular food economy by 2025, Guelph has been working on this issue for some time now. They conducted household surveys in 2013 and food waste audits in 2014. These audits found that out of all the food waste audited, 63% was fruits and vegetables, 14% breads and cereals, 9% meat and fish, and 8% milk, cheese and eggs. In 2018, the City introduced intervention through print materials, door knockers and other means of communication like social media. It was found that environmental messaging encouraged the most food waste reduction and that door knockers proved more successful than social media. Guelph continues to spread awareness amongst its residents to get closer to their goals of reduced food waste and loss.

The workshop also brought together educators from University of Guelph, Western University, Simon Fraser University, and professionals from Value Chain Management and Enviro-Stewards to discuss the steps they are taking to research and reduce food loss and waste.

A significant portion of the workshop was dedicated to group discussions where participants first provided feedback on quantifying food loss at regional and national levels and later explored approaches to reduce waste across the food system. The solutions that resulted from these discussions will inform ECCC’s final report and used to inform further work in the reduction of food loss and waste at both the household level and across the supply chain.

This workshop not only brought forward solutions to combat the environmental and economic issues caused by food loss and waste, but also provided a great platform to envision how a critical shared goal of this magnitude can be achieved through collective action engaging all levels of government and stakeholders from across the food sector.