Tackling food waste


In 2016, the Council produced a national, multi-year strategy to reduce food waste. The strategy was developed by learning from global leaders, as well as successful initiatives from across Canada. Following a national stakeholder engagement program delivered in 2017, this draft strategy is now being re-written, with an anticipated 2018 spring launch of the next version.

An implementation plan will accompany the new strategy. To be effective, implementation will require mobilizing a cross-Canada effort that engages businesses from across the food supply chain, governments at all levels and consumers.

Collaboration on many fronts

Like other complex, multifaceted problems, the fight against food waste calls for broad collaboration. The Council's updated strategy will emphasize the critical need for collaboration, but also a synchronized and coordinated effort amongst Canadians and key stakeholders in different sectors to contribute.

Proposed actions on reducing food waste bring with them economic as well as social and environment benefits, such as helping Canada combat climate change. 

 National Food Waste Reduction Strategy - March 2017
 Stratégie Nationale de Réduction des Résidus Alimentaires - French version

Stakeholder Engagement

In 2017, the National Zero Waste Council undertook a robust stakeholder engagement process involving over 900 stakeholders through webinars, workshops, interviews, and an online survey. See details below.


Update on What We Heard 


The majority of stakeholders supported a national strategy and urged the National Zero Waste Council to continue leading as a powerful convener for the initiative, which aims to yield significant economic, social, and environmental benefits across Canada.

Based on innovative and tried-and-tested policies and practices around the globe, the draft National Food Waste Reduction Strategy was built on three pillars: policy change, innovation and behavior change. The actions under each pillar were intended to work together to tackle food waste challenges at all levels of the supply chain across Canada from farm to consumer. 

Strong support was given to the policy and behavior change elements of the Strategy with stakeholders looking to take action on 'best before dates', the development of a national consumer campaign, and communications materials supporting nutritious food donations.  Most respondents also recommended prioritizing upstream, or top of the waste hierarchy, activities.

The tax incentive initially proposed by the Council in 2015 to support donated food to charities received mixed reviews. Most supporters agreed with the move in principle, but more needs to be done to educate retailers about surplus food and alleviate concerns that a tax incentive might bring unintended consequences, including straining the existing receiving infrastructure in place in most organizations. 

An updated national strategy is now being developed. A deeper emphasis on innovation, culture-shifting, and peer-to-peer knowledge transfer will be included. The new strategy will use language, and recommend action, that aligns with food loss and waste (FLW) activities being implemented across North America and Europe.  Actions will be included that clearly leverage each other and contribute to community resiliency.

The original draft strategy was previously submitted to the federal government. See below for that 2016 submission. The Council has also actively contributed to the emerging A Food Policy for Canada. The Council is working hard to ensure that food loss and waste is being addressed in other national policy initiatives, while continuing to move forward with contemporary and cutting-edge recommendations for FLW action by leaders in government, business and civil society.

An updated strategy along with an implementation plan will be released Spring 2018.


Stakeholder Engagement Program


The Stakeholder Engagement Program has now closed. However, please see below for the list of events held in 2017, along with recordings where available.


Featured speakers include Bob Long, NZWC Board Member and Chair of the Food Working Group, FCM Standing Committee on Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development, and Councillor, Township of Langley, Lori Nikkel, Second Harvest and Christina Seidel, Recycling Council of Alberta.

  • Tuesday, July 18, 9:00am - 10:30am PST. Bob Long. Moderated by: Ryan Turnball, Eco-Ethonomics.
  • Tuesday, April 25, 10:15am - 11:15am PDT. Bob Long and Christina Seidel. Watch the recording
  • Tuesday, May 23, 9:00am - 10:00am PDT. Bob Long and Lori Nikkel. Watch the recording



  • March 2, 2017, Halifax, NS. Divert Nova Scotia Circular Economy Summit on Food Waste. Contact: Divert Nova Scotia http://divertns.ca/
  • March 7, 2017, Vancouver, BC. Compost Council of Canada Compost Matters in BC. Contact: Compost Council of Canada http://www.compost.org/English/WRW.htm#BC
  • April 10, 2017, Portland, Oregon, USA. Food Waste Prevention and Recovery Workshop. Open to Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement members and invited guests.
  • April 12, 2017, Mississauga, ONT. Provision Coalition Food Loss + Waste Forum. Contact: mhassanali@provisioncoalition.com
  • April 19, 2017, Toronto, ONT. Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Stakeholder Workshop: Food Waste Prevention and Recovery.
  • May 16, 2017, Calgary, AB. National Food Waste Reduction Strategy Workshop, hosted by the National Zero Waste Council in collaboration with the City of Edmonton, City of Calgary, and the Recycling Council of Alberta. Contact: admin@nzwc.ca.
  • May 30, 2017, Milton, ON. Halton Food Council Food Waste Workshop. Contact: haltonfoodcouncil@gmail.com
  • June 20, 2017, Montreal, Quebec. National Food Waste Reduction Strategy Workshop, hosted by the National Zero Waste Council in collaboration with Recycle Quebec. Contact: admin@nzwc.ca.