Manitoba company receives federal dollars to pursue food waste reduction technology

A Manitoba company is among 18 others from across Canada that's receiving $100,000 from the federal government to help develop food waste reduction solutions. Supplied / Carbon Lock Technologies

A Manitoba start-up is among 18 companies across Canada that are receiving $100,000 from the federal government to help develop food waste reduction solutions.

Carbon Lock Technologies Inc. is working on technology that draws carbon and other elements out of the waste and turns it into a product known as biochar, which can be mixed back into soil.

A stock image of biochar, the end product after carbonizing food waste. Supplied / Carbon Lock Technologies

“We set up this business, we had this idea, and the fact that we got recognized … we’re very proud of that,” said Terry Gray, co-founder and president of Carbon Lock Technologies.

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“Here is the federal government saying ‘you guys have a great idea, go for it. Here’s some money, go for it.’ And it sets you up for the next part of the challenge, which would be giving a greater impact for us a year from now.”

Researchers have previously reported over half of all food in Canada is wasted each year, and almost $50-billion worth of usable groceries end up in landfills, which produces methane.

“Canada has committed to reducing its emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030. That’s only eight short years from now, and given emissions from food waste and organics in landfills is eight to 10 per cent of that, we think we can do some damage there,” said Kevin Danner, co-founder and CEO of Carbon Lock Technologies.

“We need to move towards a circular economy. By taking that food waste, carbonizing it, and then mixing it back into soils, that helps plants grow again, we’re starting to get some of that circularity in there.”

Danner adds their work is being supported by Manitoba’s Innovation Growth Program and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.

“Our goal is to perfect that technology to prove the concept, and then scale up across Canada,” Danner said.

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Gray predicts they’re about 16 to 24 months away from rolling out the technology — after their next pilot project.

“From that, the idea is to move into other municipalities that would probably want to use this technology throughout here in Manitoba or across Canada,” Gray said.

Biochar produced from lawn clippings in Pinawa, Man. Supplied / Carbon Lock Technologies

The company already ran a “successful” pilot in Pinawa, Man. this summer, where they carbonized lawn clippings to produce biochar. Gray says they’re working with Red River College on some research projects involving the biochar this winter.

“We are hoping to have a major impact globally with this technology,” Gray said.

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