Zero Waste Oxford weighs in on the provincial strategy designed to counter unnecessary waste and fight climate change

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

(File photo)

(File photo)

Every year about $31 billion in food is wasted in Canada or $868 worth of food per person.

In Ontario that works out to be about $12 billion alone.

And it is forecast that Ontario will need 16 new or expanded landfills by 2050, if no progress is made in keeping it out of the landfill.

In 2016 the province passed the Waste Free Ontario Act which was designed to reduce the 11.5 million tons of waste that is sent to Ontario landfills each year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Released in November, the proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework and Policy Statement is a provincial strategy designed to counter unnecessary waste and fight climate change.

The framework proposes a phased-in ban of food and organic waste from landfill sites beginning in 2022.

Posted on the Environmental Registry, the framework had been opened to comments until last Monday.

Zero Waste Oxford, a committee of Future Oxford, recently released a report weighing in on the province’s proposal.

“The best part of the framework is that the ministry has differentiated food from organic waste,” said Bryan Smith, co-chair of Zero Waste Oxford. “They realize that food is important.”

In 2015, Ontario generated 3.7 million tons of food and organic waste, which includes food that could have been eaten or repurposed, as well as unavoidable waste such as food scraps.

About 60 per cent was sent to landfill.

But, Smith said, what they aren’t recognizing is the rate of food insecurity in the province.

“In a province with hungry children there is no such thing as excess food,” he said.

One of the suggestions in their report included the preparation of a healthy meal for every student in the system, five days a week.

“Many children are heading to school without a nutritious meal,” he said. “They would solve the hunger problems and a number of other problems.”

Smith also said the lack of regulations is slowing down the process.

“They need to deal with organic waste quickly because it is filling up dumps and the air with methane, and causing further problems with climate change,” he said.

He is also stressed the important role biodigesters could play in converting organic matter to methane.

“We need to keep all organic waste out of dumps,” he said. “But in doing so we need to make sure we get all the energy and compost out of it we can.”

The new framework is designed to build a circular economy, or a system where materials are never discarded -- but reused and recycled -- as well as fight climate change.