Goal 3: Waste as a resource
Goal 3: Waste as a resource
Goal 3: Waste as a resource
A circular food system respects planetary boundaries by recognizing the impact of wasted resources and the value of what’s being thrown away.
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- Community members and businesses understand the true cost of food waste and the environmental and economic benefits of designing waste out of the food system.
- New collaborations to restore and regenerate environmental economic benefits are formed between businesses, researchers, public sector, and across the supply chain.
- Innovative business models and approaches are tested to reduce waste, including upcycling, reducing avoidable waste, and repurposing unavoidable waste. Research, demonstration projects, experiments, data, and learnings help drive change.
Waste reduction and recovery
6.1 Greater awareness and attention to waste, and strategies for reducing waste
6.2 Increased use of food/food by-products to generate new value
6.3 Lower carbon footprint from food related economic activities
Households end up tossing a lot of usable produce in the compost bin — and that’s especially true for families with children. Could a little food literacy plus some kid-friendly recipes help cut that waste?
When food waste ends up in landfills, it gets buried under layers of garbage that starve it of the oxygen it needs to decompose aerobically. As a result, it generates potent greenhouse gases instead of being converted into nutrient-rich compost that can fertilize land.
Where does the greatest amount of waste happen within our region’s food system? Our Food Future researchers set out to identify these waste “hotspots.” The Food Material Flow Study is the first of its kind in Canada, offering valuable insights to inform circular strategies.
As the global climate crisis worsens, carbon offsets are becoming an increasingly valuable commodity. Essentially, they allow individuals and businesses that emit greenhouse gases to reduce their environmental footprint by paying other businesses or organizations to sequester carbon. And that holds all kinds of potential for the circular food economy.
When we talk about the environmental impacts of food production, we are using global aggregate emission averages and the numbers are dizzying. But if the footprint looks large, so does the hope for remedy; globally, shifts in agricultural practices hold the potential to be our largest carbon sink, and the soils in our local food region are well matched for this purpose.
How much avoidable food waste and non-organic material are Guelph residents tossing in their green cart? In October 2020, the City of Guelph launched a Residential Waste Data Challenge to find out. Eagle Vision Systems responded.
Programs by Strategic Intervention Area
Waste Reduction and Recovery
City and County Food Waste Audits – Both the County and the City utilize food waste audits to better understand how residents are using their green bins. The County completed food waste audits before and after the implementation of its new curbside green bin collection program, establishing baseline tonnage and composition data and assessing the impact of the green bin service. Interventions will be tested against the same households in future years to encourage green bin usage, determine effective messaging and promote food waste reduction solutions.
Food Material Flow Analysis and Hotspot Interventions – Several experts were brought together to complete a Food Material Flow Study that mapped the flow of food produced, consumed and wasted in Guelph-Wellington. This work revealed several food waste “hotspots” across the region, including fruit losses before manufacturing and losses of cereals at the processing stage. A Sankey diagram and video were created to disseminate the results. Building on the knowledge gathered from the Food Material Flow Study , an advisory panel has identified strategic interventions that could reduce inefficiencies and waste in the regional food system. We are currently selecting which of these interventions to pilot in the next phase of this project (2022-23). We will then produce several case studies examining waste and greenhouse gas production before and after interventions are applied. An application process to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is currently underway for this next phase.
Learn more, watch the video and read the report
Circular Carbon Credit Challenge – This innovation challenge will explore the potential a voluntary carbon credit-backed currency could play in supporting the community’s circularity and Net Zero goals. The pilot aims to leverage carbon credits generated by the city to seed a self-sustaining model that incentivizes and rewards businesses and residents who make climate and circular friendly actions. In early 2022, Our Food Future will work with the successful innovator to design and protype this model with the hope of piloting a scalable system later in the year.
Industry, Commercial & Institutional Food Loss Waste Pilot – Led by Canada’s Circular Innovation Council, this pilot project focuses on the industrial, commercial & institutional sector within Guelph-Wellington, where organic materials are managed independently by the organization on a facility-by-facility basis. The project aims to identify and trial collaborations to coordinate collection, transportation, and consolidation of organic material. This material will be processed into compost at All Treat Farms. The goal is to pilot a replicable model to better manage edible food to maintain its highest value and optimize organics recycling. Metrics will include greenhouse gas reduction and food diversion amounts.
County Curbside Green Bin Collection – Launched in 2020, the Green Bin Organics Program offers County of Wellington residents’ household organic waste collection for the first time. This waste is diverted from landfill and instead turned into high-grade compost through a carbon-verifiable process. In the first year of operation, more than 2,500 tons of organic household waste were processed. In addition, regular audits take place after planned educational interventions, allowing us to further understand and improve our engagement with residents.
Residential Waste Data Challenge – Following an innovation challenge, the City of Guelph has partnered with Eagle Vision Technology and the University of Guelph to pilot a technology-driven solution to analyze the waste in residential green carts. This first-of-its-kind system uses artificial intelligence to analyze organic waste in real time as each household’s green cart is emptied into the collection vehicle. This new data will help us to better understand residential food disposal habits so we can plan targeted public education/outreach and interventions that help residents reduce food waste and contaminants that cause
problems in the organic waste stream.
R-Purpose Food Loss and Waste Prevention – Provision Coalition — an Our Food Future collaborator — is working with eight local food or beverage manufacturing/processing companies over an 18-month period to reduce food loss and waste. Companies have access to tools and a team of experts who will help build and integrate circularity into operations, products and services. Outcomes focus on creating a circular business strategy, promoting a regenerative culture, preventing food waste in operations and repurposing unavoidable waste.
Guelph Solid Waste Master Plan – The City of Guelph has updated its 2014 Solid Waste Management Master Plan (SWMMP), exploring new and innovative ways to support the waste management needs of Guelph’s growing community. The updated plan will guide the City in their waste management goals and objectives for the next 25 years. The process of developing it included assessing the current state of solid waste management in Guelph; analyzing strategies for single-use plastics; developing projections for future state and growth; and analyzing the industrial, commercial, institutional sectors. A key finding has been the growing community interest to prioritize and adopt a circular economy framework to further the City’s aspiration towards zero waste goals.
Weeknight Supper Savers – Food Waste Audits and Interventions – Supported by Danone, this project tested the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary impact of a food waste reduction intervention with local families that include children ages 9–12. It also examined the extent to which the intervention is associated with changes in household food waste, parents’ and children’s waste-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, and parents’ and children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.