Circular Innovation Council expands award-winning IC&I Food Rescue and Organics Waste Diversion Pilot to Calgary

2023 program seeking partners and participants interested in accelerating institutional, commercial and industrial food waste redistribution

January 26, 2023 (Calgary, AB): Circular Innovation Council is delighted to announce the launch of a new institutional, commercial and industrial (IC&I) food rescue and organic waste diversion pilot with the City of Calgary. Following the success of its internationally recognized pilot project in Ontario’s Guelph-Wellington County, the Calgary pilot improves waste collection efficiency while creating an innovative solution for food waste that delivers social, environmental, as well as economic impact.

Pioneered by the
Circular Innovation Council, the first-of-its-kind collective initiative in Calgary targets the IC&I sector—Canada’s largest generator of food waste. The pilot mimics regionally consolidated residential food waste collection models, enabling businesses to work together to reduce the cost of collection, redirect edible food for consumption and valuable organic waste from landfills, all while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.    

Circular Innovation Council is partnering with local organizations Leftovers Foundation and Bluplanet Recycling, to help realize the project. The Council continues to add private sector sponsors to support cost-effective food waste solutions and improved organics weight data. Businesses and institutions generating food and food waste are now invited to participate in this unique co-operative cost-sharing and data-driven business model as a way to reduce their carbon footprint.

The City of Calgary is hosting the pilot as a way to understand how the consolidated and shared collection model may help it meet its waste diversion and climate change objectives. By supporting equitable and affordable access to food waste diversion for businesses and institutions of all sizes and types, the pilot aims to improve the affordability of organic waste collection, reduce disposal costs and emissions, and connect businesses to charitable agencies that are able to redistribute ‘rescued’ fresh food that might otherwise be wasted.

The pilot’s expansion to Calgary is made possible thanks to funding by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s
Environmental Impact Grant Program, as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, which selected this program as a finalist in their Business Models streams. The pilot recently received recognition from the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact’s biannual Global Forum as an internationally innovative food waste solution, selected from more than 250 programs submitted by 133 cities.

This pilot expansion comes at a time when innovation in food waste reduction is more critical than ever.   Over 50%of all food in Canada is wasted every year, representing annual losses of more than $107 billion, while one in six Canadian households continue to suffer from food insecurity. In addition, an estimated 8% of GHG emissions are caused by food waste. With impressive results achieved to date through the initial pilot, the benefits of reduced GHG emissions are felt globally as nations work together to fight climate change. The program also strengthens social capital through enhanced business awareness of food insecurity as well as connections to community agencies, all while reducing average disposal costs for those involved.

The circular economy re-imagines consumption and production beyond the linear take-make-waste model. Circularity has the ability to improve the value of natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and eliminate waste. It redefines value and encourages innovation in product design and business delivery systems. Transitioning to a circular economy delivers economic, environmental, and social impact simultaneously.

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“We are thrilled to partner with the City of Calgary to expand our pilot and show how innovation in the circular economy can help reduce food waste while delivering positive economic, environmental and social impact. Advancing new and proven circular solutions is critical to achieving our carbon reduction goals from coast to coast to coast. We look forward to testing the transferability of the pilot model in Calgary and hope this leadership inspires similar expansions in other jurisdictions across Canada.”

– Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Circular Innovation Council

“We know that affordability is one of the barriers limiting business and organization organics diversion. This pilot has shown promising results in other jurisdictions, showing that businesses and communities can work cooperatively to not only reduce the cost and considerable environmental impacts of food waste, but also improve food access for community agencies and families across Calgary facing food insecurity.   We are excited to be able to invite businesses and institutions in Calgary to get involved.”

– Kayley Fesko, Waste Diversion Specialist, The City of Calgary

At Alberta Ecotrust, we believe that the key to a sustainable future lies in the power of collaboration. By bringing together industry leaders, government officials, Indigenous groups, and nonprofit organizations, we can build a strong foundation of trust and cooperation in pursuit of our vision of healthy ecosystems. That’s why we’re thrilled to support Circular Innovation Council and their partners, the Leftovers Foundation and BluPlanet Recycling, who are leading the charge in creating a circular food economy by capturing food waste and promoting healthy communities, ensuring that everyone has access to good food, and reducing the environmental impact of the food system.
– Rod Ruff, Vice President, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation


About Circular Innovation Council

Circular Innovation Council is a national, not-for-profit, membership-based organization with over 40 years of experience delivering programming that educates and empowers Canadians to take action on the circular economy and its environmental, economic and social benefits. In concert with our members and partners, we leverage our experience and expertise to deliver on the broad gains inspired by the circular economy through research, policy, programs, and pilots. Our mandate is to accelerate Canada’s transition toward a circular economy by putting concepts into action.

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