New pilot project coming to Calgary will reduce food from businesses going to landfill

A new pilot project to reduce the amount of food businesses send to landfill is coming to Calgary.

Circular Innovation Council will run food rescue and diversion program

A bin filled with food waste illustrates the problem a new pilot program in Calgary is hoping to address.
The new project hopes to reduce food waste from business and industry in the city and get more unspoiled food to local charities. (Submitted by Circular Innovation Council)

A new pilot project to reduce the amount of food waste that businesses send to the landfill is coming to Calgary.

The food rescue and food waste diversion project will run for six months and targets businesses and industry, including restaurants, hotels, hospitals and supermarkets.

The project will see more food waste being composted and food that is still edible diverted to local organizations through the charity, Leftovers Foundation.

The pilot is being run and funded by the Ontario-based Circular Innovation Council through grants and sponsorships. The organization has already been running an internationally recognized pilot in Guelph-Wellington County in southwestern Ontario.

"It's really important to the city because it's looking to consolidate food waste collection services among neighbouring businesses with the goal to make collection more efficient and affordable for those businesses," said Kayley Fesko, a waste diversion specialist with the City of Calgary.

"The goal is to have neighbouring businesses all working collaboratively and cooperatively to manage their food waste collection services."

Fesko said a 2019 study carried out by the city found food waste made up 43 per cent of commercial garbage bin waste in Calgary.

"There's so much food still being thrown in the garbage, I think there's a great opportunity for us to redistribute food to local organizations and divert food from the landfill," Fesko said.

Piles of apples and oranges at a grocery store.
The produce section at a supermarket in Ottawa. Supermarkets are one of the businesses the pilot project is aimed at. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

Fesko said the pilot also fits in with the city's climate change goals, avoiding large amounts of food being buried. 

The Circular Innovation Council says food waste is one of the leading causes of the climate crisis globally and a big part of the program is addressing that.

"When food waste is disposed of in landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas, and reducing waste is one of the leading solutions to meeting our climate goals," said pilot project manager Katie Motta.

"We're trying to fill a gap to provide services to businesses, industries and institutions that don't have affordable options for organic waste diversion." 

Motta said they'll work with businesses and collection companies with the goal of sending one truck to as many neighbouring businesses as possible, bringing better efficiency, affordability and accessibility.

Leftovers Foundation will ensure any edible food is rescued and donated to local community agencies.

"That also helps address food insecurity in the city," said Motta. "The businesses are amazed at how easy it was to get staff on board and they're really excited about seeing their food not go to waste."

The Calgary project is due to start early this year.

If it goes well, the city says it could become a longer-term, commercially viable program. 


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