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Food Waste Reduction Strategy

Introduction

York Region expands and should reduce the volume of food waste by involving each resident in the process. The Region established the SM4RT LIVING Plan – the framework for local waste management. The Food Waste Reduction Strategy is a part of the Plan, as the quantity of food waste vastly keeps increasing. The Strategy aims to raise society’s awareness, and bring the food value back to reduce the volume of food waste generated.

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In 2012, the York Region managed more than 96,000 tonnes of source-separated organics generated by 345,811 households, and over 70 percent of it was food waste (Food Waste Reduction Strategy 1). If the percentage of wasted food remains, the volume of unused source-separated organics will dramatically increase with the expansion of the Region.

Food loss occurs in retail stores, food services, and households. Retail food waste is baked goods, produce, meat, seafood, and ready-made foods that stores could not sell before spoiling. Food services waste at least one-tenth of bought food while cooking, constant extensions in the menu, and large uneatable servings only increase the volume. Households vastly produce food waste due to preparing too much food, buying products without consumption, and not utilizing leftovers. Only 20 percent of food wasted by households is inedible, such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable peelings, bones, and fat (Food Waste Reduction Strategy 3). The remaining part is wasted because people do not value food.

Environmental and Social Implications

York Region provides a wasted food composting program that generates carbon dioxide and costs the Region approximately $253 per tonne. However, it does not solve environmental issues caused by the high volume of wasted food. Commonly eaten products are imported, and tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are produced annually because of the logistics. Food production requires water, so wasted food means that the water is spent aimlessly. The social organization Waste Not, Want Not recommends applying the Food recovery hierarchy. It offers ways for reducing the food waste volume with source reduction as the highest priority, then by feeding hungry people, sharing food with animals, and using food waste for industrial needs.

Value of Food Strategy

The SM4RT Living Plan emerged three concepts to implement the Strategy: address the cause of the increasing waste level, establish new values among the community, and move in the direction of living a healthy life, aware of human impact on the environment. To determine the optimal coverage for the food wastage problem, the Strategy’s primary step is to conduct a survey. It will reveal how the York residents value food if they are aware of the food wastage damage, and show their consumption behaviors. Then, the value of food campaign will be launched to educate about food waste in themes like a balance of buying and consuming, “best before” labels on products, and ways of better food storage.

Engagement and outreach activities like local food and farmers’ markets promotions and projects for restaurants will take an important place in the Strategy. Pilots will evaluate the residents’ level of encouragement by facilitating events within local supermarkets, restaurants, and institutions. Demonstrations, like the Community Gardening one, will help people to feel connected and motivate the media to elucidate the problem.

The Strategy Implementation

To launch the SM4RT LIVING Plan successfully, community organizations and businesses need to be involved in the process. The Regional Municipality of York states that “collaboration and partnerships with them can expand the resources necessary to promote and implement programs” (28). The Strategy expects to reach the Food Network, Greenbelt Foundation, restaurant owners, farmers, and York’s Community and Health Services department. Then, roles and responsibilities among the government, community, and local institutions will be set, and a person will be hired to control the development of the food waste reduction strategy.

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Key Benefits of the Strategy

The Strategy is projected to the year 2031, and its successful implementation will decrease the annual volume of food waste by at least 10-20 percent. The reduction is economically beneficial as it will yearly save approximately $4.2million to spend on food waste composting if the food waste is reduced by 15 percent by 2031 (Food Waste Reduction Strategy 31). Lastly, the Strategy will improve the environment of the Region: fewer greenhouse gas emissions will occur, hundreds of liters of water will be saved because of mature food consumption, and the consumption processes will produce less carbon dioxide.

Conclusion

The Strategy includes many actions to educate and encourage people to decrease the volume of wasted food, and the fact of York Region expansion must be considered. If each person is aware of ways to reduce the wastage, new inhabitants will also have to act responsibly. Furthermore, van der Werf et al. claim that “households with access to a green bin program disposed of less food waste than households without access” (4). It is recommended for York Region to involve each resident in the process and provide the optimal conditions for the Strategy’s outcomes to become solid habits of the residents.

Works Cited

Food Waste Reduction Strategy. The Regional Municipality of York, 2013.

van der Werf, Paul, Jamie A. Seabrook, and Jason A. Gilliland. “The Quantity of Food Waste in the Garbage Stream of Southern Ontario, Canada Households.” Plos One, vol.13, no. 6, 2018, pp. 1-8. Web.

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