Food Material Flow Analysis

As part of Our Food Future’s Waste as a Resource workstream, researchers have identified several food waste “hotspots”

To create a regional circular food economy, we first need to understand how food flows across our region including where is produced, processed, stored, sold, consumed, and too often, wasted. This research aggregated food waste data to create a picture of food and waste flows throughout the region that identified hotspots where food product is being lost. This research led to the Food Waste Material Flow Study Hotspots Interventions project. The study analyzed about 70 datasets to identify opportunities for change within the food supply chain. A Sankey diagram was produced to illustrate the flow of food and food waste through the demand side (production, processing, manufacturing, distribution) and the end-of-life flows in Guelph-Wellington. The outcome of the analysis was the identification of hotspots – areas where waste is causing disproportionate (or irreversible) social or environmental harm or where value is lost.

The priority of this study involves aggregating food waste data currently available in the region, identifying data gaps, collecting missing data where possible, and using the data to create a picture of food and waste flows throughout the region.  Once that picture is assembled, hotspots will be identified, where food product is being lost and then tactics will be identified to redirect it to higher points on the waste reduction hierarchy.  A number of case studies will show waste and GHG production before and after interventions are applied.  An application for Work package 3 has been submitted to FCM and is currently under review.

The resulting study demonstrates significant instances of food waste across our region which directly fed into interventions, including:

  • The greatest volumes of food waste in our region are in fruits and vegetables, although from a carbon perspective meat and dairy waste result in greater lifecycle emissions.