Food Waste in Toronto

Food Waste in Toronto

Toronto has many problems; one of the major ones is food wastage. Food wastage is a nationwide problem as evidenced by the country’s high rank in this category. Households are at the heart of the issue and contribute 50% in food wastage. In Toronto, food wastage is still a problem even though some people have no access to a decent meal. People spend billions annually to shop for food that they do not consume. The urban lifestyle is partly to blame as people have rigid food schedules and are at times unable to make proper plans for their meals. Correspondingly, Toronto, just like many other cities, turns to landfills to solve the problem. The landfills not only impact the environment but also affect the structure of the city. Given these challenges, the government and organizations have devised solutions that would minimize pollution and make city dwelling not only tolerable but also more developed. Toronto’s food wastage has polluted the city through landfill disposal, but the policies and programs set have minimized wastage and improved the environment and enhanced infrastructure.

Food Wastage in Canada

Canada is listed among the most wasteful countries when it comes to food, and households contribute substantially to the waste. A commissioner’s report found that per capita, 396 kilograms of food is wasted from farm to table (Weber, 2018). Correspondingly, consumers constitute the most significant number of food wasters in food production. In fact, more than 50% of waste, which translates to $275 billion comes from food that Canadian households have thrown out (Gooch, Felfel, & Marenich, 2010). However, these homes can avoid most of these wastes given that most foods thrown out are edible even though they are past their best before date. Households throw away food because they prepare too much of it, allow the food to spoil, and fail to use leftovers. Notably, they can keep or preserve these foods by refrigerating in a deep freezer, such as meat, dairy products, ready meals, pre-prepared foods, and vegetables. Indeed, food wastage in Canada is a significant problem to which final consumers contribute the highest.

Correspondingly, food wastage in Canada is attributed to several causes. The first cause is overproduction which leads to the poor distribution of food along the supply chain, leading to many discounts. Given that too much food gets spoiled before it reaches the intended market, providing discounts makes it easy to move food to consumers before it completely spoils (Gooch et al., 2010). Furthermore, defects in products or equipment cause food wastage. When the equipment does not operate efficiently in the storage and transportation of food, it results in food wastage. By comparison, low quality food not only perishes quickly but lacks buyers, hence, ends up in a landfill. Another issue is communication. Unnecessary inventory is another cause. Spillage, delays, and spoilage occur at all levels in the supply chain, including households. Additionally, poor processing techniques expose the food to complex production that destroys its quality. Unnecessary transportation results in much movement of food, diminishing its quality and making it expensive. If the food is too pricy, many households will not afford the product, leading to wastage. Many factors contribute to food wastage in Canada, and it appears that it prevails throughout the supply chain.

Consequently, food wastage has several implications. Food waste yields pollution (Gooch et al., 2010). When families throw food away, it produces methane, which is 35 times more toxic than carbon monoxide. The gas is among the dangerous greenhouse emissions linked to global warming. In addition, the waste seeps into water sources, which, in turn, become polluted. The soil also becomes toxic, rendering it dangerous to carry out agricultural activities. Food wastage is hazardous, as it destroys the environment.

Toronto’s Case

Toronto is a metropolitan area that is densely populated. According to the Toronto Consensus Metropolitan Area (CMA), there are more than 2.8 million inhabitants in 2016, versus 6.1 in 2014 (Dubbeling et al., 2016). The population is rising partly due to increasing births and migration. With such a large population, food-related issues are inevitable. Ironically, despite much food wastage, hunger affects a significant number of people, particularly children. Toronto has a high population, which experiences food wastage despite a faction of its inhabitants going hungry.

Correspondingly, arable land surrounds Toronto city, supplying the city with food. Agricultural land encompasses 60% of the city, 60% of which relies on irrigation and 35% is rain-fed (Dubbeling et al., 2016). A contributing factor to this proximity is the availability of the market from the urban populous. The farmers could likely collaborate with businesses in producing, marketing, and distributing the food. Moreover, farmers can closely interact with customers. In effect, they understand what the customers need and make changes to meet consumer demands.

The inhabitants of Toronto contribute to food waste in Canada. A single household in Toronto wastes nearly 275 kg of food which is approximately worth $1,100 (“Food Waste,” 2019). In other words, homes waste one in every four purchases that they make. In fact, $7 billion is spent on food, yet 80% of what is thrown out is perfectly edible (“Food waste: The issue of food waste”). Notably, the most wasted food includes fruits and vegetables, while households rarely throw away dairy products and eggs. These urbanites waste food due to various reasons. Some include the pressure of proper eating, which entails a balanced diet. Another challenge is the ingrained routines that result in inflexible and overprovisioning in food preparation (Werf, Searbook, & Gilliland, 2018). Unexpected activities also contribute to wastage as families leave the raw materials they were to prepare and eventually, they dump them in the trash. Lack of planning in terms of purchase and preparation also escalate food wastage. Food wastage in Toronto is due to food choices and household routines, which cause a lot of preventable wastage.

The government spent approximately a quarter billion dollars to dig the Green Lane Landfill to manage the food wasted. Moreover, garbage companies throw almost 120,000 tons of organic waste into the landfill, which represent 25% of the total residential waste. As mentioned above, the factors contributing to food wastage also apply to Toronto. Throwing food in a landfill has many implications for Toronto. Although considered the best alternative to managing waste, landfilling utilizes land and causes pollution (Adhikari, Martinez, & Barrington, 2009). It exposes those who live close to the landfill to polluted air and soil. The dwellers also experience much noise from trucks moving in and out of the landfills. The dumps are also near rural areas, which affects agriculture as landfill soil is useless for agriculture. The waste also seeps into water sources, contaminating supplies to households and farms, which, in turn, contributes to diseases. Landfills are also costly to the government financially. The government spends funds collecting the waste, transporting it, and making greenhouse ramifications. It is also expensive to restore landfills to usable land. Toronto’s use of such dumps limits land available for farming and affects the quality of its environment.

Implemented Activities to Reduce Wastage and Improve Urban Dwelling

Toronto has food programs and policies to promote proper food management. Toronto dwellers understand the significance of food in providing nutrition and livelihood to the dwellers. Food also creates a relationship between urban and rural communities, which depend on each other for consumer information, employment, nutritional education, and consumption. Accordingly, the policies and programs aid in safeguarding these practices. As from 2012, the Toronto Food Policy Council expanded into other regions of food safety like Greater Golden Horseshoe, a rapidly growing population, which could affect food production. Notably, food policies in Toronto illustrate that food is an integral part of the city’s infrastructure; hence, carefully planning is critical to ensure sustainability and equity. Toronto has instituted procedures to minimize food wastage and protect city infrastructure.

Organizations have been instrumental in minimizing food wastage. The program creates sustainable food solutions such as food security and reducing wastage (Dubbeling et al., 2016). FoodShare has a weekly box program that provides local and seasonal products to areas with a short supply of food. The city even offers a warehouse and office where the administrators give foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to various institutions and the needy. In effect, this food, which families would have otherwise thrown away reaches those who need it. Other organizations like Not Far From the Tree and Second Harvest employ strategies to diminish waste (“Food waste,” 2019). For instance, Not Far From the Tree organizes fruit picking in cities and then shares them among homeowners, volunteers, and soup kitchens. Comparatively, Second Harvest collects wasted food and gives it to volunteer organizations and food assistance programs within the city. Indeed, organizations have played an instrumental role in ensuring that families do not lose food by giving those who need but cannot afford it.

Local food promotion also prevents waste. The city’s environment and energy divisions work together with the residents and businesses to ensure sustainability by instituting beneficial programs. For instance, the Local Dish is a program that avails food recipes using locally available food. Furthermore, it gives residents tips on how to preserve and cook locally grown foods daily. The program also connects businesses and shoppers with Live Green Card so that they know where to pick up produce. There is also a food cooperative where people can purchase food at a discounted price. Affordable food means less will end up in the landfill. There is also a meatless Monday, which aims at minimizing the carbon footprint of these products. These initiatives are valuable because they educate the dwellers on their role in reducing food wastage and save costs related to purchasing food. Local promotion activities are critical because they involve all stakeholders in reducing food waste.

The government is also increasing the infrastructure to manage food wastage. The Green Bin organics has two processing facilities, one is in the final stage of construction. The facility was to start operating from March 2019, which would increase the management of waste. It will likely process 130,000 tonnes of food and other wastes annually. The city has also liaised with the private sector to ensure that it manages waste responsibly. From 2020 onward, the city will have enough organics processing capacity to and secure additional ability to handle the projected needs of the dwellers. In Toronto, the government strives to process wastes, instead of throwing them in the landfill. At the same time, it is contributing to the infrastructure of the city. The Green Bin organics strategy is useful in ensuring proper food waste management.

Food asset management project monitors food and city infrastructure. The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance manages the project. Food assets include food enterprises, urban farms, community gardens, community kitchens, retailers, and markets (Dubbeling et al., 2016). The project will monitor the food asset mapping to understand how food systems and governance bodies can work together to create a sustainable food distribution channel (Abdulla Gooch, & Jovel, 2013). In effect, they will design appropriate strategies for land use and economic development programs for the agriculture sector. These plans are in line with the Food and Farming Action Plan 2021, which will ensure that food is available to urban dwellers without wasting it. The food asset mapping exercise reveals the changes the Canadian government should implement in city and food infrastructure and distribution for sustainability.


Toronto’s food wastage has polluted the city through landfill disposal, but policies and programs have minimized wastage and improved the environment and enhanced infrastructure. Canada is a food-wasting nation, as households dispose of billions in dollars and tonnes of food in landfills. The supply chain of food also causes much wastage as it loses food before it even reaches the final customer. Comparatively, in Toronto, people’s lifestyles are responsible for food wastage as it is a consumer-driven economy where food is cheap, disposable, and abundant. Hence, the government turns to landfills, which are dangerous as they pollute the environment and take up space that it would have used for development. However, the city’s government, with the aid of programs has tried to salvage the situation. Asset management, processing plants, local farming, and food distribution are positive steps that have not only provided food for the needy but also created less waste.

Undoubtedly, Toronto is trying to resolve food problems but should do more to engage households. Notably, most of the solutions are based on government and organizational level, yet families are the major culprits when it comes to wastage. Consequently, in addition to the existing solutions, people should be involved in this practice through consumer education. Equally, the government should closely monitor food production and supply. The texts do not demonstrate how food movement is recorded, hence, it is impossible to compare findings. With comprehensive records, it will be easier to make evidence-based decisions relevant to Toronto, and hopefully Canada government, organizations, and people should work towards ending food wastage through hands-on approach and research.


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