Prevent food waste
By preventing food waste we are taking action at the highest level of the 5R pollution prevention hierarchy. Actions at this level (reduction), can have a far more significant impact than action at lower levels, as waste and pollution are addressed at their source.
For example, when food is wasted, both food and money are lost. The amount of food wasted in Canada is worth an estimated $31 billion annually (Value Chain Management International Inc., 2014).
In addition, all of the energy, water and other resources that have been used to produce the food are also wasted. Therefore, by reducing food waste, we can also reduce the amount of resources lost in its production, processing and distribution.
In B.C., organic waste currently represents 40% of material sent to our landfills. In turn, as this material decomposes, it generates a significant level of greenhouse gases which increase global warming and contribute to climate change. Globally, if food waste were represented as a country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the U.S. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018).
B.C. local government waste composition studies show the levels of household food waste occurring in B.C. communities:
- Cowichan Valley Regional District Residential Food Waste Composition Study 2015 (PDF, 3.5 MB)
- Regional District of Nanaimo Waste Composition Studies
Prevent residential food waste
Uneaten leftovers and spoiled food make up over 25% of the waste discarded from a household. While composting food waste is better than sending it to the landfill, preventing food from being wasted in the first place is the best solution.
Love Food Hate Waste Canada is a national initiative which provides helpful tips and tools that enable residents and local businesses to make their food go further and to waste less. As a partner of the Love Food Hate Waste initiative, the Province has, through the development of a provincial partnership model; rolled the program out across B.C. by providing local governments and communities with access to a range of useful resources to reduce residential food waste.
In addition, the Ministry has produced a Residential Food Waste Prevention toolkit (PDF, 7.4 MB) as a resource that helps local governments or non-governmental organizations address avoidable food waste from households. It describes different program models and their components, and provides guidance for identifying suitable approaches, based on a community’s size, capacity, and priorities.
- Learn more about Preventing Residential Food Waste
Prevent business food waste
Businesses in the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) sector generates a substantial amount of wasted food and packaging. Decreasing the amount of food waste and packaging could reduce waste disposal costs and protect the environment. The Ministry produced toolkits to assist retail, such as supermarkets and convenience stores, and food service providers, such as restaurants and drinking establishments, to help operators prevent food waste. This page also provides options for food donations.
- Learn more about Business Food Waste Tools & Food Donation Options
Support global and regional food waste reduction initiatives:
Learn more about Food Waste in Canada:
- Love Food Hate Waste Canada
- National Zero Waste Council
- Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste
- Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
- Fifteen Canadian Initiatives Trying to Reduce Food Waste
Educate residents to make purchasing decisions that prevent food waste:
Encourage citizen-led food waste reduction initiatives: