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Reducing Food Waste in Ontario: Halton Food’s 2017 Food Waste Symposium

May 1, 2017

The estimated true cost of food waste in Canada is $107 billion — and, on average, 46% of fresh fruits and 50% of fresh vegetables are wasted. 

To tackle these issues, the Halton Food Council and Sustain Ontario hosted a symposium on policies, practices and partnerships for reducing food waste in the Halton region and beyond on May 30th, 2017.

Speakers and panelists included representatives from the University of Guelph, Provision Coalition, the National Zero Waste CouncilLove Food, Hate Waste, an initiative of Metro Vancouver, among others. 

Speaking on behalf of the National Zero Waste Council, Denise Philippe informed of Canada’s National Food Waste Reduction Strategy — a national iniatiative stemming from the National Zero Waste Council.

She explained that there are three core reasons for the National Food Waste Reduction Strategy: having local governments (municipalities) pay less for food waste diversion, the amount of greenhouse attributable to food waste and the fact that many Canadians do not have access to nutritious foods while so much food is being wasted.

One of the pillars of the proposed strategy is a tax incentive for nutritious foods (for organizations) based on guidelines developed by British Colombia’s Centre for Disease Control. “We’re talking about healthy, nutritious foods really getting to people,” said Philippe.

According to Philippe, 25 municipalities across Canada have already passed their own tax incentives to get food to the plates of the most vulnerable. In some provinces, such as Ontario, producers and businesses can receive tax rebates from donating food items to organizations in need.

“We’re concerned about totally healthy food that’s being dumped in a landfill,” said Philippe.

Other pillars for the proposed federal food waste strategy include supporting technologies such as organic disposal bins and initiatives to turn organic waste into things like bioenergy, compost and animal feed.  Philippe pointed out how Canadian cities, such as Halifax, have already implemented innovative composting programs. 

The third pillar made note of was “behaviour change,” with Philippe pointing to the need for education initiatives to empower and enhance awareness of food waste as an issue. Metro Vancouver’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign was pointed to as an example of a successful consumer education campaign that could be rolled out nationally to help lower food waste across Canada. For more information, see this municipal-regional toolkit from Sustain Ontario.  


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