In the Zero Waste High Rise project, TEA supports buildings to make their Green Bin more accessible, and to provide education and tools to residents so that placing organics in the Green Bin is convenient for everyone.
This is important because when food scraps and other compostable materials get sent to landfills, they create greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, in Toronto, organic waste is collected by the City’s Green Bin program gets turned into compost and green energy - feeding two birds with one scone!
However, we've audited the waste of a number of high-rise buildings in Toronto, and we've found that a large portion of compostable waste we find in a building is actually avoidable food waste. That is, not food scraps like peels and bones, but food that could have been eaten.
Read on to learn what happens to the organics collected by the City, and tips for how you can reduce your avoidable food waste.
1. How the organics collected by the City of Toronto are turned into compost and green energy
- Toronto’s Green Bin waste is processed in City-owned anaerobic digesters.
- These state-of-the-art facilities break down food and organic waste much faster than open-air or worm composting, and can remove certain contaminants
- The City is installing equipment that turns the biogas produced by this process into Renewable Natural Gas (download the slide presentation for more info)
2. Tips for interpreting date labels on food
- One reason people may throw out edible food is due to confusion around ‘Best Before’ and other date labels on food
- Households misinterpret Best Before dates as expiry dates, but Best Before dates are not a food safety indicator. They are the manufacturer’s estimate for peak freshness of a product
- Only 5 food items have an ‘expiry date’ in Canada. It’s safe to eat a number of foods after the ‘best before’ date -- see this helpful guide.
3. Food storage tips to keep food fresh longer
- Another reason people throw out food is because of improper storage. Different food types will stay fresh longer if kept in specific areas of the fridge
- For example, meat, poultry and fish should go on the bottom shelf - the coldest place in the fridge, while vegetables should go in drawers set at high-humidity
- Second Harvest's Waste Wise Guide provides food storage tips to keep food fresh longer.
Keeping food and organic waste out of the garbage by preventing food waste, and by sorting it properly, saves money, feeds people and is good for the environment. High-rise buildings and residents can work together to help reduce food waste at home, and improve the accessibility of the Green Bin for the building.
Sign up for email updates about the Zero Waste High Rise project to get success stories and resources that can help you reduce waste in your building.
Event Recording and Resources
On June 11, 2020, Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) hosted its first online learning event for residents of buildings participating in the Zero Waste High Rise Project. Waste experts from Toronto Environmental Alliance were joined by food waste expert Rose Barcarse from Second Harvest - Canada’s largest food rescue organization - to discuss reducing food waste.
- Download the presentation slides here
- Watch a recording of part of the session with Rose Barcarse's expert tips to reduce food waste at home
- Downloadable resources to reduce food waste at home: