City of Saskatoon looking to find best ways to divert food waste

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WATCH: A research project could find ways to prevent food from being wasted in Saskatoon. – Feb 20, 2020

Five project collaborations between the City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan have been funded a combined total of $100,000 through a Research Junction Development Grant program.

One of the projects aims to reduce food waste in Saskatoon.

The food waste protection project will start with interviews with other municipalities about their tactics of reducing food waste.

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Non-profit organizations, such as the Saskatoon Foodbank and Friendship Inn will also participate in the study, as they could be primary recipients of food not needing to be thrown away.

From there, the city and Saskatoon Food Council will ask local businesses about what they currently do with food waste. According to a survey from the city, about two per cent of businesses said they currently donate food waste.

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“What we do hear a lot from businesses is that they think they’re not allowed to [donate food waste] so that’s one of the barriers that we want to explore through this study is why aren’t people donating food waste and how could we make it easier,” said Amber Weckworth, city manager of Strategy, Climate and Data.

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The city said 13,000 tonnes of food going to the landfill doesn’t need to be thrown out every year. This food takes up $138,000 worth of space in the landfill annually.

“The greenhouse gas emissions that food waste releases when it decomposes … it produces methane which is a very potent greenhouse gas and we think that 13,000 tonnes would equate to about 15,000 tonnes of GHG’s reduced per year,” Weckworth predicts.

The team received $24,000 for their research, with some of the funding going towards the salary of a university student being hired to work on the environmental aspects of the project.

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Researchers are hoping the results can help other cities learn new food waste prevention measures, as well. About 58 per cent of food is wasted every year in Canada. About one-third of this can potentially be recovered.

“We hope other cities will look to this and that we can build on it and do more significant work around education [and] diverting food from the landfill,” Saskatoon Food Council executive director Gord Enns said.

The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021.

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