Federal funding extends food waste diversion pilot program

GUELPH – New federal funding for an innovative food waste diversion program is opening the door for more businesses and institutions in Guelph and Wellington County to reduce their food waste, reduce the cost of organics collection, reduce their carbon footprint and help improve community food access.

The Circular Food Recovery and Waste Diversion pilot project led by Circular Innovation Council in partnership with Our Food Future has been announced as a finalist in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Food Waste Reduction Challenge: Business Models stream. By advancing to the semi-finals, the project picks up an additional $400,000 to extend the funding to further extend the pilot in Guelph-Wellington; as well as test the model in other communities over a one-year period.

Previously, as one of 24 semi-finalists announced in May, 2021, the Circular Innovation Council received a $100,000 grant to start-up pilot operations in Guelph-Wellington.

A June 23 press release from the council states that 50 per cent of all food in Canada is wasted every year, representing annual losses of more than $107 billion, while one in seven Canadians suffer from food insecurity.

The local waste diversion project has been successfully trialling an innovative model to improve management and recovery of edible food and food waste from the industrial sector to redefine value and put circular economy concepts into action.

With seed funding from Agriculture Canada and local support from County of Wellington and City of Guelph solid waste divisions, alongside Grand River Agricultural Society, Longo’s, Skyline Group of Companies, University of Guelph, Walker Industries, Waste Management, Second Harvest, CleanRiver Recycling, Glad and other local non-profit partners, the pilot aims to mimic the efficient municipal model of door-to-door waste collection by regionally consolidating a collection route for all sizes and types of businesses and institutions generating food waste.

The pilot aims to improve affordability of organic waste collection, reduce garbage disposal costs by removing organics, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and connect businesses to charitable agencies that can redistribute “rescued’ fresh food that might otherwise be wasted.

The idea was selected as a finalist in the challenge, enabling the existing pilot to be extended in Guelph and Wellington County, while also seeking additional pilot host municipalities to test its replicability in other locations.

As one of 12 finalists, the program eligible to receive up to $1,500,000 if it becomes a grand prize winner of the challenge.