Guest post by Katie Motta, Project Manager IC&I Food Recovery and Waste Diversion Pilot, Circular Innovation Council
As many Leftovers supporters may know, almost 1 in 6 households face food insecurity across Canada. What’s less well known is that businesses and institutions produce as much or more wasted food than households across Canada, an estimated 5 to 9 million tonnes a year. Yet outside of food rescue organizations, few programs are in place to support businesses and institutions to prevent food waste or make it affordable to divert food scraps.
Circular Innovation Council has partnered with the Leftovers Foundation to bring its business-focused Food Rescue and Organic Waste Diversion pilot to Alberta, initially in Calgary, and now launching in Strathcona County and the Town of Westlock.
Building on the success of its pilot in Guelph and Wellington County, the model aims to simplify food rescue (with the expertise of the Leftovers Foundation and its Rescue Food App), as well as reduce the cost of diverting food waste to compost for businesses and institutions. In brief, the pilot model consolidates collections among as many neighbouring businesses and institutions as possible, similar to residential green bin collection. Efficient, consolidated collection lowers the cost of diverting food waste to compost. The more neighbouring businesses that participate, the lower the cost for everyone. The solution reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing access to nutritious food and compost.
In collaboration with the Leftovers Foundation, Circular Innovation Council is now actively recruiting businesses and institutions in Strathcona County (Sherwood Park), and the Town of Westlock, Alberta. We are also excited to report that in this pilot, compost will be applied to local regenerative mixed farms in Westlock for a truly circular food solution. Businesses and institutions are invited to register their interest at CIC’s website for more information, or reach out to Suraya ([email protected]) if you have contacts that might be interested. Subsidized food waste collections launch in early 2024.
Originally, we partnered to trial this solution in Calgary, Alberta. Calgary is a leader in industrial, commercial and institutional waste (IC&I) diversion, one of only a handful of Canadian municipalities that has a by-law requiring businesses and institutions to divert both food waste as well as mixed recycling. In Calgary, a majority of businesses are already diverting food waste due to the by-law, making it challenging for this model to bring efficiency and enhance affordability to small and mid-sized businesses scattered across the city that are not yet separating food scraps for compost. However, there were many businesses interested in learning more about food rescue. In particular, hotels and hospitality is an area that Leftovers heard from multiple sources needs more support to effectively donate surplus prepared food from catered events.
We can’t wait to see what this next pilot has in store for us and for all of you. Stay tuned!