Food and organic wastes make up approximately one third of Ontario’s total waste stream. This includes organic waste generated at home, such as food scraps and leaf and yard waste, as well as food waste produced by industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sectors such as food processors, wholesalers, grocery stores and restaurants.
In 2014, Ontarians generated about 3.6 million tonnes of food and organic waste, of which over 60% was sent for disposal, mostly to landfill.
Although food is essential for life and organic materials are critical for healthy soils, significant amounts of organic material end up going to disposal year after year.
Reducing the amount of food and organic wastes that end up in the waste stream provides economic benefits in terms of cost savings across the supply chain and new jobs associated with organic waste processing facilities. It also results in environmental benefits in the form of greenhouse gas reductions and less reliance on landfills. Given the right conditions, food and organic waste can be recovered and re-integrated into the economy. Turning food and organic waste into valuable products recognizes the net economic benefit of a circular economy, where nutrients, energy and other resources are recovered and serve as inputs to new products.
The Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy, released on February 28, 2017 commits the ministry to a Food and Organic Waste Action Plan with a key action being the possible banning of food waste from disposal. The strategy also proposes that the first policy statement under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 will focus on food and organic waste. These actions will also support the waste reduction and resource recovery objectives of the strategy and greenhouse gas reduction objectives of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan.
The discussion paper, “Addressing Food and Organic Waste in Ontario”, serves as the basis for preliminary discussions with stakeholders to inform the development of the Food and Organic Waste Framework. The Food and Organic Waste Framework will aim to:
- Reduce the amount of food that becomes waste
- Remove food and organic waste from the disposal stream
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from food and organic waste
- Support and stimulate end markets that recover the value from food and organic wastes
- Increase accountability of responsible parties
- Improve data on food and organic waste
- Enhance promotion and education regarding food and organic waste