Food Waste: The Issue of Food Waste

Food Waste by the Numbers

  • $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year.[i] This is approximately 40% of food produced yearly in Canada
  • The accumulative cost of associated wastes (i.e. energy, water, land, labour, capital investment, infrastructure,
    machinery, transport) has been estimated by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization at 2.5 times
    greater than the “face value” of wasted food, making the overall cost of food waste in Canada exceed 100 billion[ii]
  • Land filled organic matter creates methane gas which is 25x more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide[iii]
  •  Approximately 47% of food wasted in Canada occurs at home. The other 53% of wasted food is generated
    along the value chain when food is produced, processed, transported, sold, and prepared and served in commercial
    and institutional settings[iv]
  • Households in Canada on average waste $28 worth of food each week ($1456 annually)[v]
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2007 Canadians wasted the equivalent of 183 kilograms of solid food per person
    between retail level and the plate, amounting to over six million tonnes
  • Approximately 80% of consumer food waste was once perfectly edible[vii]
  • Food waste was highlighted in the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s Annual Report (2011/2012) as an
    emerging issue that may be escaping broader public attention and has the potential for significant environmental

An Average Household’s Food Waste in a medium sized Ontario Municipality

(Massow and Martin, n.d.)

bar graph

Percentage of Food Waste Throughout the Chain (field to home) in Canada

(Gooch et al, 2014)

pie chart

Hierarchy of Food Recovery

Food waste reduction and diversion initiatives take a variety of approaches that can be prioritized through food
recovery pyramids. These initiatives focus on both edible and inedible food waste.

1. Prevention: Avoid the Generation of Food Waste

2. Re-use: Feed People in Need

3. Recycle: Feed Livestock Food unfit for Human Consumption and/or Compost Food Waste

4. Recovery: Produce Renewable Energy with Unavoidable Food Waste

5. Disposal (Landfill/Incineration)

Food Waste and Toronto

  • The Green Lane Landfill cost Toronto approximately ¼ billion dollars.
  • In 2013 the City of Toronto reported approximately 111,848 tonnes of residential organic waste were diverted
    from landfill through the Green Bin Program. This makes up 25% of all residential diverted waste[viii]

Toronto’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy

As the City of Toronto develops its Long Term Waste Management Strategy the TFPC has been working towards
strategically including food waste as a priority in the Strategy.

Potential benefits for the City of Toronto include:

  • Reduce the amount of organic waste in the waste stream
  • Reduce greenhouse gas landfill emissions including the amount of methane gas created by landfilled organic matter and biogas created at source separation facilities
  • Generate increased public interest in the benefits of waste management
  • Turn the City of Toronto into a leader on the emerging issue of food waste reduction and diversion


[1] Papargyropoulou, E., et al., (2014) The food waste hierarchy as a framework for the management of food
surplus and food waste
, Journal of Cleaner Production. Retrieved from:

[i] Gooch, M., Felfel, A., & Glasbey, C. (2014, December) Food Waste in Canada – $27 Billion Revisited.
Value Chain Management Center. Retrieved from

[ii] Gooch, M., Felfel, A., & Glasbey, C. (2014, December) Food Waste in Canada – $27 Billion Revisited.
Value Chain Management Center. Retrieved from

[iii]  Environmental Commissioner of Ontario [ECO]. (2012). Losing our Touch: Annual Report 2011/2012 Part 2. Toronto: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Retrieved from

[iv] Gooch, M., Felfel, A., & Glasbey, C. (2014, December) Food Waste in Canada – $27 Billion Revisited.
Value Chain Management Center. Retrieved from

[v] Martin, R. (2012) Extensive Land Use to Sustain Agriculture. Paper Presented at the Canadian
Agricultural Economics Annual Meeting, Niagara Falls, ON.

[vii]  Gooch, M., Felfel, A., & Marenick, N. (2010, November). Food Waste in Canada: Opportunities to increase
the competitiveness of Canada’s agri-food sector, while simultaneously improving the environment.
Value Chain Management Center. Retrieved from

[viii] Cty of Toronto (2014B.) Residetial Waste Diversion. Retrieved from City of Toronto: