It was a garbage bin full of carrots, at the back of a Walmart in Etobicoke, that caught Kim Chi’s attention.
She and her boyfriend were riding their bikes home when she noticed the carrots hanging out underneath the lid of the bin. Chi says she went over to investigate and found several bags of what she thought looked like good carrots being thrown away.
“I was angry because there are hungry people in Toronto and I don’t understand why people feel it is okay to waste food like this,” Chi told Global News.
Chi says she also found another bin full of loose produce, most of which still looked fresh. The incident upset her so much, she took to Facebook, questioning Walmart’s food expiration practices.
Global News got in touch with Walmart Canada, who in a statement said: “we can assure you that those items were placed in bins to be picked up by our third party recycling vendor as part of our organic waste program. Items placed in these bins include organic waste which has passed its best before date or those of poor quality. Produce which has not reached its best before date but is blemished in some way is available for purchase through our dollar bag program which provides customers with access to imperfect fruits and vegetables at a discounted price. This program has become very popular among our customers and has decreased our amount of organic waste.”
The incident at the Walmart in Etobicoke does raise the question about waste in Canada. The numbers are staggering.
According to a 2014 study by Value Chain Management International, $31 billion of food is wasted in Canada every year.
WATCH: Canadians waste a staggering $31 billion in food every year and it’s having a huge impact environmentally and economically
The biggest wasters are individuals at 47 per cent, which amounts to $14.6 billion in food waste. Other areas include food manufacturing and processing at 20 per cent; farms and retailers account for 10 per cent each, followed by restaurants and hotels at 9 per cent, and finally transportation and distribution at four per cent.
In February, France became the first country in the world to ban large grocery stores from throwing away any unsold food. Instead, the law requires supermarkets to donate the food to charities and food banks. Italy is doing the same by passing a similar law in March.
Here in Canada, there is no such legislation but companies like Starbucks and Tim Hortons are reducing their organic waste. Tim Hortons has an organic waste recycling program and some Starbucks locations donate their unsold food to the needy.
Walmart says it also has a donation program whereby it connects Walmart locations with local food banks.
But in the coming months Ontario is hoping to join France and Italy by taking a bold step forward in eventually becoming a waste-free province. Proposed Bill 151 aims to encourage producers to take responsibility for their waste by turning it into new products. The new legislation is also expected to help fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas pollution.