Pilot project turns food waste from Kitchener businesses into clean energy

The downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area is asking for local businesses' food waste, and handing it over to be turned into clean energy.

13 downtown Kitchener restaurants and grocers are participating in a composting initiative.

Full Circle Foods co-owners Julia Gogoleva and Sam Nabi already had composting arrangements in place — but took the BIA up on their offer.

A new composting initiative in downtown Kitchener collects commercial food waste and turns it into clean energy.

The Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area (BIA) has asked 13 restaurants and grocers to participate in their pilot project.

"This pilot is about supporting a circular economy by using local partnerships and expertise to provide local jobs and solutions to a global problem," said Linda Jutzi, the BIA's Executive Director in a press release. 

How it works

The waste is transferred to Bio-En Power in Elmira to be processed into a flexible and green energy source called biogas.

Sustainable Waterloo Region is also collaborating on the project, supporting the businesses by measuring how much waste they divert from landfill, and helping to implement good composting practices.

Julia Gogoleva, co-owner of Full Circle Foods, said her business already had a composting solution in place before they were approached by the BIA.

"Really the reason we're excited to participate is because it's a systemic solution," she said.

She said she wanted to support the initiative because it offered a hassle-free and cost-effective solution for small businesses that may not have funds to spare for waste diversion.

Thinking bigger

At La Cucina, Bobby O'Brien's and McCabe's, vice-president of operations Darryl Moore anticipates 70-75 per cent of food waste will be diverted into the new compost program.

But Moore, who also serves as the chairman on the BIA, refers to the project as an interim solution. He said that the Elmira facility is already near maximum capacity.

"I'm hoping really the region takes a bigger part in looking at commercially how they're going to deal and manage in the next few years to come with the compost," he said, "There's still got to be a long term goal and solution for everybody wants to participate in the city."