Some food waste, such as bones, eggshells, tea bags, fruit cores and peels, is unavoidable. However, over 50 per cent of food wasted in Toronto single-family households is avoidable, including leftovers and untouched food that could have been eaten at one point. We often waste good food because we buy too much, cook too much, or don’t store it correctly. It’s estimated that avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household over $1,100 per year. Food waste is a significant issue both locally and across the country.
Food waste reduction is a key part of the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy. Since food waste is not just a local issue, the City of Toronto has partnered with the National Zero Waste Council, other government organizations and major retailers on the Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign.
Stop Food Waste
Why Food Waste is a Problem
According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste in Canada, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year, costing Canadians in excess of $17 billion. In addition to the economic costs, food waste has substantial environmental impacts. Wasted food wastes the resources used to grow, produce and distribute that food to consumers and produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road.
Food and other organic material incorrectly put in garbage bins are sent to landfill where it decomposes and produces greenhouse gases like methane. Toronto’s Green Bin program was designed for unavoidable food waste (e.g. scraps, peels, cores). Avoidable food waste, such as leftovers or food that has spoiled that is put in the Green Bin creates the need for additional resources and management while increasing costs.
Read more about food waste in Canada.
Food Waste in Toronto’s Single-family Households
- Approximately 91,304 tonnes of food waste (avoidable and unavoidable) is generated annually.
- The average single-family household throws away over 200 kg of food waste (avoidable and unavoidable) a year.
- Avoidable food waste accounts for over 100 kg (over 50 per cent) of all food waste generated by a household per year.
- Fruits and vegetables make up the largest portion (42 per cent) of avoidable food waste, by weight.
- Approximately 80 per cent of food waste is put in the Green Bin.
Easy ways to reduce your food waste
To help reduce your food waste, start by practicing a few of these simple tips:
- Spend some time on the weekend planning meals for the following week.
- Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before shopping. See what needs to be used up and then think of a meal to make with those items.
- To preserve freshness and nutrition, use perishables like seafood and meat earlier in the week and save staples (pasta, dairy, eggs) for later in the week.
- Buy fresh vegetables in smaller amounts and use frozen vegetables to fill in the gaps.
Keep it fresh
- Keep food fresh longer by storing it in the correct place and setting the temperature in your fridge to 4°C or lower.
- Set one produce drawer to high humidity to store vegetables that wilt, like leafy greens, and another produce drawer to low humidity for fruits and some vegetables that produce ethylene, like apples and peppers.
- Freeze items to make them last longer. Bread can last up to three months in the freezer, chicken can last up to nine months and most vegetables can be frozen for eight months to a year.
Use it up
- Soak wilted vegetables like celery, lettuce, broccoli or carrots in a bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes to reinvigorate them.
- Fruits and vegetables past their prime are not only great in smoothies but also taste great in baked, stir-fried and grilled dishes.
- A best before date is not the same as an expiration date. If a package has remained unopened even after the best before date, it can still be of good quality and freshness, as long as it has been stored properly.
For more tips and tasty recipes visit the Love Food Hate Waste Canada website.