July 30, 2018 (Toronto, ON): Food waste is the single largest waste stream lost to disposal and the leading cause of methane emissions from landfills. Ontario municipalities generate 55 per cent of food and organic waste annually with a recovery rate of close to 50 per cent. Comparatively, the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I) sector generates 45 per cent of food and organic waste with a recovery rate of just 25 per cent. To trial a method to increase food and food waste recovery in the IC&I sector Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) invites local businesses and buildings that generate any amount of surplus edible food or food waste in Oshawa to take part in an innovative food waste pilot.

RCO will be joined by a diverse group of organizations supporting the Food Waste Pilot. The Region of Durham and Miller Waste Systems host the consolidation site where source-separated and inedible packaged organics will be pre-processed prior to being sent for composting or anaerobic digestion. The City of Oshawa, in conjunction with the Downtown Oshawa Business Improvement Area, is assisting with the pilot and will collect organic waste from a number of participating members throughout the pilot. Feed the Need in Durham will rescue and redistribute edible food among its 60+ emergency food providers across the Region.

“Businesses and institutions often manage their waste, recyclables and organics location by location which can be far apart, in contrast to the standardized door-to-door collection that municipalities provide for homes. That’s why we are trialling a co-op model that mimics residential model with a smaller geographic footprint to make it simple and cost-efficient for the non-residential sector to recover food waste and rescue surplus food that would otherwise be lost to disposal,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, RCO.

Residents and businesses throughout Durham have long been committed stewards of the environment,” says Peter Veiga, Supervisor of Waste Management Operations, Region of Durham. “We know businesses are always looking for new ways to reduce the amount of waste generated and associated costs, and this Food Waste Pilot will allow us to test if the co-op model is a sustainable approach.”

To test the viability of the co-op model RCO invites businesses and commercial properties in Oshawa to join the Food Waste Pilot co-op for a four-month trial and help achieve three objectives:

  • Leverage the municipal collection model by facilitating regional collection to decrease transport costs and driving distances between pick-up points and building economies of scale to increase collection of surplus food and food waste recovery rates
  • Maintain an accessible consolidation centre that can manage three food streams: edible/donated food, source separated organics, and non-consumable food requiring de-packaging
  • Collect relevant data to measure economic and environmental outcomes and advantages of a co-op model.

“This model where businesses share collection and recycling services and costs by localized region has never been trialed before,” continues St. Godard. “If we can demonstrate this approach to food and food waste recovery is viable with social, environmental, and economic benefits it can be utilized in communities large and small right across the country.”

As part of the initiative RCO has also formed an Advisory Committee and is pleased to welcome leaders from across the waste management, property management, and food rescue industries to help guide the Food Waste Pilot: Miller Waste Systems Inc., Region of Durham, Ivanhoe Cambridge, Second Harvest, Feed the Need in Durham, StormFisher Environmental, Walker Environmental, and EcoBusiness Network.

Local businesses and buildings that generate any amount of surplus edible food or food waste in Oshawa are invited to take part in the Food Waste Pilot. For more information, visit www.rco.on.ca/foodwastepilot or contact the Project Manager, Daniel Bida – Daniel @ rco.on.ca.

This pilot project is made possible through Walmart Foundation’s $15 million USD ($19 million CAD) commitment to prevent food waste and support food banks.

“For more than ten years, through philanthropic and business initiatives, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have been working to reduce food waste and strengthen charitable programs to accelerate food recovery and get food to those who need it most,” said Karrie Denniston, Senior Director of the Walmart Foundation. “We hope this grant to support the new co-op model and work of RCO will catalyze collective action to reduce food waste.”