Food and organic waste framework

ERO number
013-1814
Notice type
Policy
Act
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
November 16, 2017 - January 15, 2018 (60 days) Closed

This consultation was open from:
November 16, 2017
to January 15, 2018

Decision summary

Following consultations, we are releasing the Food and Organic Waste Framework to prevent and reduce food and organic waste, rescue surplus food, collect and recover food and organic waste and support beneficial end-uses. This will help the province build a circular economy and fight climate change.

Decision details

A decision has been made to finalize the Food and Organic Waste Framework (Framework), based on input received from stakeholders and the public on the proposed Framework posted on November 16, 2017 for public comment. 

The Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy, released on February 28, 2017, committed the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to develop a Food and Organic Waste Framework to reduce the volume of food and organic waste sent to disposal. The Framework will help the province build a circular economy while contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases and achieving the province's Climate Change Action Plan targets.

The Framework consists of two complementary components: 

  • Food and Organic Waste Action Plan, which outlines strategic commitments to be taken by the province to address food and organic waste.
  • Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which provides direction to the province, municipalities, producers, Industrial, Commercial & Institutional (IC&I) sector (e.g. retailers, manufacturers, hospitals, schools), the waste management sector and others to further the provincial interest in waste reduction and resource recovery as it relates to food and organic waste.

The Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement was issued by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, pursuant to Section 11 of the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, on April 30, 2018 and is now in effect.

The Framework includes actions and policies that seek to prevent and reduce food and organic waste, rescue surplus food, collect and recover food and organic waste, and support beneficial uses. The Framework includes actions and policies that:

  • Increase promotion and public education to encourage Ontarians to prevent and reduce food waste.
  • Facilitate the rescue of surplus food, so good food does not go to waste.
  • Support research and data collection to improve our understanding of food and organic waste in the province.
  • Support increased residential food and organic waste resource recovery, recognizing unique factors affecting recovery of food and organic wastes on a regional scale, including in rural and northern communities.
  • Support increased food and organic resource recovery in the IC&I sector, including in multi-unit residential buildings, by setting outcomes and targets and by proposing to consult on amendments to the 3Rs regulations.
  • Support the development of a proposed disposal ban on food and organic waste, recognizing regional capacity and ability, including the unique circumstances in northern and remote communities.
  • Seek to improve waste processing infrastructure through better planning, coordination and decision-making processes for environmental and land use approvals.
  • Increase beneficial uses of recovered resources, including soil amendments such as compost and digestate.
  • Support the production of renewable natural gas from recovered food and organic waste, reducing dependence on greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels.

Comments received

Through the registry

54

By email

44

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Comments were received on the Framework from the public and a wide variety of stakeholder sectors, including the waste management industry, IC&I sector, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, the agri-food industry, public health and academia. The ministry also considered comments:

  • Submitted in response to the Discussion Paper: Addressing Food and Organic Waste in Ontario which was posted for 60 days from May 31 to July 30, 2017 (EBR No. 013-0094).
  • Raised during two information webinars held on November 30 and December 1, 2017.

The final Framework was also informed by input from the ministry’s stakeholder working group. This group included representatives from municipalities, the waste management industry, producers, non-governmental organizations, the agri-food industry (e.g. farmers, food processors), generators of food and organic waste in the IC&I sector, food rescue organizations and academia.

The ministry also undertook sector specific meetings with waste management organizations, industry and municipalities prior to finalizing the Framework.

In addition, the ministry continued to engage its internal working group on the final Framework, which included the following participating ministries: Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Advanced Education and Skills Development; Community and Social Services; Economic Development and Growth; Education; Energy; Government and Consumer Services; Health and Long-Term Care; Housing; Municipal Affairs; Natural Resources and Forestry; Northern Development and Mines and Treasury Board Secretariat.

Public and stakeholders are generally supportive of the release and implementation of the Framework.

Most of the comments received supported:

  • Establishing an Ontario Food Recovery Hierarchy.
  • Developing actions and policies that target all sectors of the supply chain.
  • Increasing resource recovery and setting targets for all sectors.
  • Developing promotion and education tools to support food waste prevention and reduction, highlighting the need for consistent messages and cross-sectoral partnerships.
  • Amending the 3Rs Regulations to increase resource recovery across the IC&I sector.
  • Developing food safety guidelines to support the safe donation of food.
  • Developing and encouraging partnerships and innovative approaches and tools to safely rescue surplus food.
  • Incorporating waste reduction and resource recovery activities within schools to educate children and facilitate behavioural change.
  • Promoting beneficial uses of recovered resources and supporting processing infrastructure.

Some of those who commented raised the need to:

  • Clarify that the Framework is intended to change behaviour in support of the prevention and reduction of food waste in Ontario.
  • Consider either accelerating or increasing timeframes for the achievement of targets.
  • Ensure that sufficient infrastructure and processing capacity is developed prior to the full implementation of a possible disposal ban on organic waste.
  • Consider amending thresholds for waste generated by large educational institutions to help ensure that school age children are able to participate in waste reduction and resource recovery activities.
  • Increase waste reduction and resource recovery of food and organic waste from multi-unit residential buildings across Ontario.
  • Support the safe redistribution of surplus food, while recognizing that it is not a long-term solution for food insecurity among low-income individuals.
  • Consider opportunities and potential support to implement policies and actions outlined in the Framework.

Key amendments to address the comments heard and to improve the Framework included:

  • Updating the guiding principles to recognize the need to promote behaviour change to prevent food from becoming waste.
  • Providing explicit timeframes for implementation of policies within the Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement, recognizing the need to allow for sufficient time to meet targets and achieve outcomes.
  • Amending thresholds for large educational institutions and hospitals from 300 kg to 150 kg of waste generated per week to help ensure that these institutions continue to play a leading role in resource recovery, recognizing that many institutional establishments already source separate food and organic waste.
  • Directing owners of multi-unit residential buildings in both Southern and Northern Ontario to provide collection of food and organic waste and promotion and education to residents in order to ensure equal service levels across the province.
  • Providing direction to encourage best practices to avoid contamination of collected food and organic waste.
  • Several minor administrative changes were also made to improve clarity of the document.

All comments have been considered during the finalization of the Food and Organic Waste Framework.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

You can view supporting materials in person. Some are not available online because of ownership rights or for accessibility reasons.

Get in touch with the contact person listed below to find out what materials are available.

You can view them in person at these locations:

Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Ian Drew

Phone number
Office
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
013-1814
Notice type
Policy
Act
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Proposal posted

Comment period

November 16, 2017 - January 15, 2018 (60 days)

Proposal details

Description of policy

The province has developed a proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework (Framework). Together with the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building a Circular Economy and Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, the proposed Framework will help Ontario build a circular economy and fight climate change. The Framework consists of two complementary components:

  • Part A: Proposed Food and Organic Waste Action Plan which outlines strategic commitments to be taken by the province to address food and organic waste; and,
  • Part B: Proposed Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which provides direction to the province, municipalities, producers, IC&I sector, waste management sector, and others to further the provincial interest in waste reduction and resource recovery as it relates to food and organic waste.

Ontario is shifting to a circular economy — a system in which materials are never discarded, but reused or recycled into new products and reintegrated into the market. Managing our resources more effectively will benefit Ontarians, our environment and the economy. It will help Ontario fight climate change and achieve its goals of a zero waste future with zero greenhouse gases from the waste sector, as set out in the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy, released in February 2017.

There are serious environmental consequences to sending food and organic waste to disposal.

In 2015, Ontario generated 3.7 million tonnes of food and organic waste, which includes food that could have been eaten or repurposed, as well as unavoidable waste such as food scraps and vegetable peelings. About 60% of this was sent to landfill. When these valuable materials end up in a landfill, they contribute to climate change. As food and organic waste break down in an oxygen-deprived environment, they create methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector accounted for approximately 5% of Ontario’s total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. Greenhouse gas emissions from Ontario landfilled food and organic waste represent 93% (8.0 megatonnes) of total emissions from the waste sector.

Sending food and organic waste to landfill is ultimately unsustainable and puts additional strain on our environment by requiring new landfill space. Given the projected population growth and economic trends, it is forecasted that Ontario will need 16 new or expanded landfills by 2050, if no progress is made to keep our resources out of the landfill.

There are also economic consequences to sending food and organic waste to disposal. The amount of food waste each year is staggering. In Canada, about $31 billion worth of food is wasted annually. This equates to about $868 worth of food per person per year and equivalent to about $12 billion for Ontario alone.

Current efforts to collect and recover resources through household food and organic waste programs, and leaf and yard waste programs support approximately 1,700 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario, and generates over $100 million in gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, turning the food and organic materials into compost and digestate creates economic and environmental benefits which can improve soil health, help reduce erosion, and improve water quality. Similarly, renewable natural gas and biofuels can be produced from recovered food and organic waste and their use can help reduce our dependence on greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels.

The proposed Framework sets a vision for a circular economy that moves towards zero food and organic waste and zero greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector.

In developing the proposed Framework, the province considered a number of key guiding principles, including:

  • Enhancing existing partnerships with stakeholders and building new relationships
  • Building on progress made in Ontario and learning from other leading jurisdictions
  • Collaborating across all levels of government to avoid duplication
  • Supporting an outcome-based approach
  • Using evidence to guide decision making
  • Using regulatory and non-regulatory tools
  • Creating conditions that support sustainable end-markets
  • Increasing the use of innovative technologies
  • Enabling efficient and effective recovery systems
  • Recognizing the administrative impacts and costs to recover resources from organic materials

The proposed Framework strives towards the achievement of the following objectives:

  • Reduce food and organic waste: Preventing food from becoming waste is a critical first step and has the greatest positive impact on the environment, the economy and society. Rescuing surplus food further reduces food waste and ensures that edible food does not end up as waste.
  • Recover resources from food waste and organic waste: Increasing resource recovery, in particular, from multi-unit residential buildings and the IC&I sector will help the province reach its zero waste and zero greenhouse gas emission goals.
  • Support resource recovery infrastructure: Turning food and organic waste into valuable products recognizes the economic benefits of a circular economy. It is important that Ontario has sufficient infrastructure capacity and innovative technologies to process food and organic waste into valuable resources, such as nutrients, and renewable natural gas.
  • Promote beneficial uses of recovered resources: Supporting beneficial end-products and sustainable markets for organic materials is critical. This includes making beneficial uses of recovered resources to support healthy soils which promote crop growth and enhance carbon storage, as well as end-products like renewable natural gas, electricity and biofuels which replace carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

The proposed Framework includes actions and policies which support Ontarians as they prevent food and organic waste, rescue surplus food, recover resources from food and organic waste, and find sustainable end-uses for products made from organic materials.

Purpose of policy

The Ministry has developed a proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework as part of its commitments in the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building a Circular Economy. The Framework consists of two complementary components:

  • Part A: Proposed Food and Organic Waste Action Plan which outlines strategic commitments to be taken by the province to address food and organic waste; and,
  • Part B: Proposed Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which provides direction to the province, municipalities, producers, IC&I sector, waste management sector, and others to further the provincial interest in waste reduction and resource recovery as it relates to food and organic waste.

The intent of the posting of the Framework is to seek Ontarians feedback on the proposed Framework. All comments received will be considered during the finalization of the proposed Framework.

Public consultation

This proposal was posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting November 16, 2017. Comments were to be received by January 15, 2018.

All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.

Other public consultation opportunities

The development of the proposed Framework was informed by a stakeholder working group. The ministry invited key representatives from municipalities, the waste management industry, producers, non-governmental organizations, the agri-food industry (e.g. farmers, food processors) and generators of organic waste in the IC&I sector (e.g., food retailers, restaurants, offices, hospitals) to participate in the stakeholder working group. The ministry conducted six stakeholder working group meetings; two broad workshops that included additional organizations to discuss food waste reduction, surplus food rescue and food waste recovery as well as the development of processing infrastructure and supporting end-markets for food and organic waste.

The ministry also undertook sector specific meetings with waste management organizations, industry and municipalities.

To ensure engagement across provincial ministries and to receive feedback on the Framework, an Internal Working Group was also established and included the following participating ministries: Agriculture and Rural Affairs; Advanced Education and Skills Development; Community and Social Services – Poverty Reduction Office; Economic Development and Growth; Education; Energy; Government and Consumer Services; Health and Long-Term Care; Housing; Municipal Affairs; Natural Resources and Forestry; Northern Development and Mines and Treasury Board Secretariat.

Public and stakeholder feedback was received through the posting of a discussion paper, Addressing Food and Organic Waste in Ontario, May 31, 2017 to July 30, 2017. Comments received on the discussion paper informed the development of the proposed Framework.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

You can view supporting materials in person. Some are not available online because of ownership rights or for accessibility reasons.

Get in touch with the contact person listed below to find out what materials are available.

You can view them in person at these locations:

Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from November 16, 2017
to January 15, 2018

Connect with us

Contact

Ian Drew

Phone number
Office
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number