Dollarama thwarts dumpster divers by destroying food headed for garbage

Dumpster diving enjoys a certain niche appeal as a frugal way of doing groceries. But even if it hasn’t attracted a widespread following, at least one store in St-Léonard takes extra steps to make sure there is nothing worth salvaging from its garbage.

Discount store in St-Léonard takes extra steps to spoil dumpster diver's appetite

Joanie Champoux says when Dollarama found out she was dumpster diving, it started opening bags of candies and chips before throwing them in the garbage. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

Dumpster diving enjoys a certain niche appeal as a frugal way of doing groceries.

But even if it hasn't exactly attracted a widespread following, at least one Montreal store takes extra steps to make sure there is nothing worth salvaging from its garbage.

A Dollarama in St-Léonard recently began destroying products before placing them in its dumpster, according to Joanie Champoux.

Champoux had been scouring the Dollarama dumpster for several weeks. It was a trove of pasta boxes, canned food and chocolate bars.

Most of the food was past its best-before date, but Champoux found it was nevertheless still edible.

"It was like a question mark in my head," she said. "Why is this in the garbage?"

Champoux figures the store eventually found out what she was doing, because it started opening bags of candies and chips before throwing them out.

"You really have to take something sharp and open it," she said.

"So there's really someone there in the back of the store, taking it and opening it, one by one."

Dollarama told the CBC that its policy is to render expired products unusable.

Best-before dates only guidelines 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says best-before dates are only guidelines. It is possible for food to be safely consumed afterwards.

Many food banks are willing to accept donations that are past their best-before dates.

Joanie Champoux had found a trove of edible food in the Dollarama dumpster, before the company began destroying food headed for the garbage. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

Champoux was so shocked by the amount of food she found while dumpster diving that she started an informal group to donate it to families in need.

The group also reaches out to businesses, encouraging them to donate what they would otherwise throw into the garbage.

"It's people helping people," said Champoux. "The owners of the stores don't want to waste, it's just that no one has approached them to do that [donate their food]."

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