A new joint study by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and the City of Saskatoon, Promising Practices for Food Recovery in Saskatoonfound ways to minimize the amount of food thrown away.
The project took place through Research Junction, an innovative partnership between the city and the university. Research Junction awards funds to projects that apply advanced research methods to solve current problems in Saskatoon.
Rachel Engler-Stringer of USask’s Community-University Institute for Social Research was one of the project’s lead researchers.
The team carried out a survey of best practices in food diversion and collected information from a wide variety of stakeholders, including food retailers and organizations on the front lines of delivering food to customers. in Saskatoon.
Once they understood the logistical and infrastructural barriers to food diversion, the researchers developed recommendations to address this widespread problem. It is estimated that one-third of food produced globally and 30-40% of all food produced in Canada each year is wasted or lost.
“We tried to make it very practical,” said Engler-Stringer, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the USask College of Medicine. “I hope a number of our recommendations will be taken into account and that there will be significant changes in Saskatoon.”
In particular, she would like to see a food recovery association created in partnership with governments, as well as a social enterprise created to “upcycle” or transform food surpluses for other purposes.
Farhad Lashgarara, who was one of the study’s lead researchers, said there was a need to both create ways to divert food from landfills and deter simply throwing it away.
“It’s easier now to just throw things away,” he said. “We need to change that equation.”
Other recommendations include a public awareness campaign, the use of food diversion apps by phone, and the inclusion of food diversion in urban planning processes.
This initiative aligns with Saskatoon’s Solid Waste Reduction and Diversion Plan, which outlines clear actions the city can take to produce less waste and recycle and compost most of it. The report was presented today to the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services.
“With these two coordinated strategies, the city is looking to next steps to act on its recommendations,” said Jeanna South, director of sustainability for the City of Saskatoon. “The upcoming regulation for businesses to start diverting the food waste they generate in 2023 presents an opportunity to encourage the reduction and redistribution of food that would otherwise become waste, thereby reducing disposal costs while benefiting to our community and the environment.”
The full report is available here: https://cuisr.usask.ca/publications.php