Reducing food waste provides benefits to Canada’s economy, environment, and local communities. The wasting of edible food costs us at least $31 billion every year, in production, shipping and lost market value, according to research by VCM International (2014). Organic waste, largely food, produces 3% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (half that of the oil, gas and mining sector). This hurts our economy, municipalities and environment. The impacts of this waste are also felt by food charities serving Canadians participating in community kitchens, community gardens, nutrition programs, food banks, food hubs, and more.
Inefficiencies in the supply chain account for about half of all food waste in this country; consumers account for the rest. Causes run the gamut from technological limitations in equipment and packaging to risk perception and wasteful behaviour among employees, managers and consumers, according to Provision Coalition (2014).
Studies also show that collaborative approaches across different sectors – by managers, employees, suppliers, service providers, consumers, food banks, regulators, etc. – produce the best results in reducing food waste. These can take the form of education, information-sharing, pilot studies and advocacy for legislative and regulatory reform, among other approaches.
With this in mind, the National Zero Waste Council’s Food Working Group brings together representatives of key sectors to collaborate in the development of policies, actions and harmonized approaches that address “avoidable” food waste, nationally. This includes recent advocacy for a federal government tax incentive to encourage the donation of larger volumes of edible food to charities offering public assistance.