Reducing food waste benefits 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). Greenhouse gas emissions from the disposal of organic material in landfills are estimated to account for 4% of the national greenhouse gas inventory, according to Environment Canada, and food waste is more than half of all organics disposed of nationwide.
Diverting food waste from dumps, therefore, would help Canada reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030—and prevent the waste of water, energy and land used to produce this food. Nutritious food, diverted from waste, would also help charities that serve Canadian households via community kitchens and gardens, nutrition programs, food banks, food hubs, and other channels.
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.