Food and Organic Waste Management in Ontario

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a discussion paper late May 2017 addressing food and organic waste in Ontario. By 2022 Ontario wants to ban food waste from being thrown in trash bags with other household garbage.

The purpose of the paper is to get Ontarians thinking about food waste in terms of how to reduce the amount that becomes waste and how to remove it from the disposal stream. Some of the framework’s goals are to enhance education regarding food and organic waste and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from food and organic wastes.

According to the paper, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations found that 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is wasted per year. In 2014 $31 billion of food was wasted in Canada. Most of the food wasted (3.6 million tonnes!!!) was sent to landfill. The ministry states that when food and organic materials break down in an oxygen-deprived environment, such as a landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. The paper suggests that food waste is a growing problem and offer more sustainable practices.

To combat the amount of food and organic waste being produced in Ontario, the ministry put forth a strategy that includes 15 actions Ontario can take to reduce greenhouse gases, and the amount of food and organic waste in landfills. Some of the action points include: “Banning certain materials, such as food waste, beverage containers, cardboard and fluorescent bulbs from disposal”, “Outreach activities targeted at households and across the supply chain” and “Donor protection limits or removed liability from donors who donate food in good faith”.

The benefits of diverting food and organic waste from landfill include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, create compost which can improve soil health, reduce erosion and improve water quality. It creates economic and environmental benefits of recovering nutrients, energy and other resources that would be used in new products.

Here is the Ministry’s discussion paper: http://www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2017/013-0094_DiscussionPaper.pdf.

I think green bins need to be more normalized, having more of them in parks and around cities. I also think green bins should be a part of classrooms and in schools to encourage the habit of composting.

What do you think about the strategies put forth? How do you plan on reducing the amount of food and organic waste entering landfills?

Aaliyah Atcha

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