Tax breaks for food donations would curb waste and poverty, says Calgary councillor

Brian Pincott is asking city council on Monday to support a proposal that would give federal tax breaks to businesses who donate unsold food to charity.

Brian Pincott is asking council to support the National Zero Waste Council’s food waste reduction proposal

According to the city in 2014, Calgary homes and businesses threw out more that 150,000 tonnes of edible food. (CBC News)

A Calgary councillor wants the city to back a Canada-wide initiative to divert food waste from landfills by offering tax breaks to businesses that donate unsold groceries to charitable organizations.

"We pay a lot of money to get rid of — to dispose of — perfectly good, edible food at a time when food insecurity is a huge issue," said Ward 11 Coun. Brian Pincott.

"You know, we have 130,000 Calgarians accessing the food bank every year."

Calgary homes, businesses and industries tossed more than 150,000 tonnes of food in 2014, according to the city.

According to the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC), 300-million meals end up in Canadian landfills.

On Monday, Pincott will introduce a notice of motion urging city council to support the NZWC's  food waste reduction proposal.

Other cities that have passed or are tabling a similar motion include North Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley, Edmonton, Halifax, Richmond, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Incentives needed 

Though the NZWC proposal is pushing for a federal tax incentive to encourage restaurants and groceries to donate unused food, Pincott says it's still necessary for cities to support the idea.

"Waste always, always comes down to municipalities," he said.

Pincott says "sadly" it's cheaper for businesses to toss food than make an effort to donate it. He says offering them a tax break would be an incentive.

Although plans are already underway to provide green bins to all Calgary households, Pincott says composting is still waste.

"We're going to compost really good food as opposed to bury really good food.  So how do we actually work so that really good food doesn't land there."

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