SWR's "Organic Matters" columnist Paul van der Werf was in Ottawa September 12 with NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau to promote her food waste reduction private members bill, Bill C-231.
Enactment designates October 16 of each year National Food Waste Awareness Day, and provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada.
The development of a national strategy to reduce food waste is important because it bridges two critical issues: food waste and food insecurity, said van def Werf at the press conference.
“The average Canadian household throws out five pounds of food worth $12 every week. Keep in mind that this doesn’t even start to count things like food waste that occurs at restaurants and grocery stores.”
Food waste in Canada caused $107 billion in economic loses in 2014, and $31 billion worth of food goes to the landfill or compost heap each year in this country.
Given more than 850,000 Canadians, 36 per cent of them young people and children, visited food banks each month in 2015, it is imperative to address the 6.3 million tonnes of foodstuffs wasted in Canada each year, equating to 183 kg per inhabitant.
van der Werf said the issue is complex. Approximately eight per cent of Canadians do not have sufficient and consistent access to food, creating a vast disparity compared with those who throw food away.
“These two realities don’t jive and is disheartening to witness in our prosperous country,” said van de Werf. “This is a national issue and quite frankly warrants a national strategy.”
Bill C-231 calls for implementation of the Fight Against Food Waste Act, which comprises a national day of awareness about food waste; and, a national strategy aimed at raising public awareness of food waste, putting tools in place to help consumers reduce food waste; facilitating donation of blemished but edible food to community organizations and food banks, studying various ways to reduce the environmental impact of the production of unused food resources, and establishing food waste reduction targets.
Reducing Canadian food waste by 50 per cent would result in $300 in annual savings per average household, environmental and climate change benefits, and awareness around consistent access to food as a fundamental human right.
van der Werf also points to consumer education as a key component in a national food strategy, calling for the implementation of information about how much and how often to buy food; Best Before not equating with Worst After; how to prepare food, and instilling confidence in eating leftovers.
“Food waste is a triple bottom line issue,” said van der Werf. “It costs people money; it has considerable environmental impacts and climate change implications, and is indelibly tied in with the poverty issues that creates food insecurity.
“This issue is worthy of national leadership and support. This national strategy will drive the change that is needed.”
For more information, follower Paul van der Werf on Twitter at @allfoodisfood or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch the press conference at http://www.cpac.ca/fr/programs/a-la-une/episodes/48826487.