With changes to commerical food waste regulations coming soon, the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) is encouraging food businesses to re-think their food waste disposal practices.
Beginning July 1, the RDNO’s Municipal Solid Waste Management bylaw will be amended to include commercial food waste to its list of regulated materials, which means loads of commercial-scale food waste will be assessed a higher disposal fee than general waste.
The bylaw change is intended to encourage businesses to prevent food waste by distributing or donating excess food or by composting remaining food scraps.
The RDNO says the first six months of this bylaw amendment will be an “education and implementation period,” and enforcement won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2023. Enforcement will also focus on loads that contain primarily food waste from large grocers and food processors. By July 1, 2023, enforcement could be expanded to other food service industry sectors.
While initially the focus will be on large generators of food waste without waste diversion programs, the goal is to ultimately have all businesses keep food waste out of the garbage.
The RDNO is offering guidance to help businesses divert food waste, starting with the following suggestions:
• Prevent food waste and reduce the cost of collection service.
• Donate safe and healthy food through food recovery organizations.
• Compost separated food scraps
“More than half of all food produced in Canada is wasted,” said Jim Schubert, RDNO environmental services manager. “If all food wasted in the world was produced by a single country, it would be the third largest carbon emitter, after China and the U.S. When edible food is wasted, all resources from producing that food (including water, land cleared, fertilizer, labour and fuel) are also wasted.”
Schubert added that wasting food is also expensive.
“Retail food stores and food service in B.C. lose an estimated $1.3 billion worth of food per year. This is 57 per cent more than the estimated profit in those sectors,” he said.
The RDNO endorsed a plan to regulate commercial waste disposal in 2019. The onset of COVID-19 delayed implementation of the new regulation until this summer.
Resources including industry-tested comprehensive and condensed guides, as well as food donation guidelines, can be found at rdno.ca/commercial-food-waste.
There’s also the RDNO ReTHINK Waste Project Grant Program, which funds innovative, collaborative and community-oriented projects that keep waste from the landfill. Initiatives that involve distributing surplus food and community composting are encouraged.