(Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Canada is one of the biggest wasters of food: report

Every Canadian, on average, tosses away 170 kilograms of food per year

An international environmental group suggests that reducing Canada’s colossal food waste would be a smart business move and good for the environment.

“You can make a really strong business case for action,” said David Donaldson of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an environmental watchdog agency set up under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada is one of the biggest wasters of food on the planet, says the commission’s report, released late last week. The agency found that from farm to table, 396 kilograms of food annually are wasted or lost per capita.

That’s compared with 415 kilograms in the United States and 249 kilograms in Mexico.

Food is considered lost when it is spilled or spoiled before it reaches its final destination.

Not only does that waste have an economic cost — other studies have pegged it at about $30 billion a year — it creates 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, largely from landfills.

By far the largest part of the waste comes from consumers, says the report. Every Canadian, on average, tosses away 170 kilograms of food a year.

The commission’s recommendations focus on the middle part of the food chain where Canada’s groceries are collected, processed, distributed and prepared. That’s where the economic case is clearest, Donaldson said.

“You can make a business case for it. Companies can improve the way they do business.”

Restaurants could reduce portions, the report suggests. Bread served at tables could be optional. Buffet serving trays could be shallower to reduce the amount of food on display.

Retailers could sell cosmetically imperfect produce at a discount, as some already do. Expiry date labels could be standardized.

Better tools and techniques to prevent food waste and to make processing and transport more efficient would be a big help, said researcher Tamara Shulman.

“We interviewed people from across Canada and everyone’s thirsty to get access to information,” she said.

James Rillet of Restaurants Canada said his industry is well aware of the economic benefits of cutting waste.

“It’s money out of their pockets.”

Rillet’s group already runs programs to help restaurateurs plan better to avoid waste. It’s also working with the Ontario government to avoid food waste due to outdated health guidelines.

But he called some of the report’s recommendations simplistic.

“Some restaurants are known for their portion sizes,” he said. “There’s so many different concepts.

“Consumers want what they want.”

The National Zero Waste Council, which is devoted to cutting waste from the Canadian economy, praised the commission’s report and said it echoed many recommendations it has already made.

“Best-before dates are low-hanging fruit,” said Denise Philippe. “The dates on our food packaging are all over the map.”

Too much food gets tossed because consumers and businesses assume a best-before date is a deadline and not a quality benchmark, she said.

“It’s not clear to the consumer and sometimes not to businesses that when we say ‘best before’ we’re not talking about a food safety issue.”

Donaldson said more people are becoming aware of the problem.

The commission’s report was produced at the request of the three NAFTA governments. As well, all three have signed a United Nations pledge to halve food waste and loss by 2030.

A federal strategy is expected this spring.

“The issue of food waste, for the last decade, has really come to the forefront,” Donaldson said.

Canadian Press

Just Posted

Kitchen table talk: Where change starts

Ask yourself what values you’d like others to come away with

Five common retirement planning mistakes

We are living longer which may require working longer

RCMP execute search warrant at Syndicate Motorcycle Club Red Deer clubhouse

Four people face charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement and drug charges

Castor continues its downtown facelift

Sidewalk replacement ongoing

Castor Manor gets renovations

New windows installed

Angry giant baby Trump balloon makes him feel ‘unwelcome’ in London

Trump told The Sun newspaper that he felt unwelcome in London because of protests, including a giant balloon that was being flown over Parliament on Friday.

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Belgium finishes 3rd at World Cup, beats England 2-0

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Police arrest Indigenous pipeline protester occupying B.C. park

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

‘Flipping Amazing’ Pancake Breakfast welcomes 6,000 Central Albertans

Westerner Days is, unofficially, underway after Bower Place held their annual Pancake Breakfast.

Most Read