FIGHTING FOOD WASTE
by Erin Lawrence How much food is going bad in your kitchen today? If you’re like the rest of us, something in your fridge is likely no longer edible, and you won’t think twice about tossing it in the composter, or, if you haven’t yet made the earthfriendly jump, the garbage. But consider the waste in your own kitchen on an industrial scale. While most homeowners are quick to pitch out half a loaf of bread, some mushy carrots or part of a tub of now-furry yogurt, the waste generated by the people that make the food we buy and allow to rot in the fridge is exponentially larger. If a few buns fall off a table at a packaging station each hour, that adds up over a week. Small shavings of butter that fly off the bricks swooshing along a conveyor belt get scraped up and hucked in a dumpster at the end of the day. Over the course of a year, hundreds of pounds of butter could be lost. All that waste adds up big time, and that’s why Canada’s food producers are working to do something about it. “People think it’s a much smaller problem than it really is,” says Bruce Taylor,
CITYPALATE.ca JANUARY FEBRUARY 2018
founder of Enviro-Stewards Inc. Taylor is an internationally recognized expert in water and waste reduction, reuse and recycling. He goes into factories and works with the leadership and staff to identify where large-scale food waste is happening, then finds ways to reduce it. At one plant he evaluated, he watched as industrial-sized blocks of mozzarella dropped from one conveyor belt to the next, each drop causing a piece of cheese to break off and fall into a collection tray. At the end of the day, the tiny bits were sent off to be made into processed cheese, an excellent re-use option. “But when we took the time to actually measure it, that’s actually $70,000 in value being lost, when you compare selling mozzarella to selling processed cheese,” explains Taylor. “We had them adjust the conveyor so that little piece didn’t fall off in the first place.” The family-owned Calgary Italian Bakery has recently worked with Enviro-Stewards to reduce waste at its southeast Calgary facility, and has adopted several recommendations.
In that plant, Taylor noticed that buns were sticking in some baking pans and had to be yanked free, crushing them and rendering them unsellable. Taylor traced the sticking issue back to the pans themselves. They needed refinishing so their non-stick glazes could be replenished. The amount of waste decreased immediately. Louis Bontorin, V.P. of Sales and Administration for Calgary Italian Bakery Ltd., was shocked to discover that these particular baking pans had been creating 7% waste. “We started to teach our team, saying, ‘If you see a pan that has an issue, put it to the side,’” says Bontorin. “Then we can assess and evaluate if that pan needs to go for re-glazing.” The Enviro-Stewards Audit also found Calgary Italian Bakery could save thousands each year by changing its lights to more energy-efficient versions. Bontorin says the audit also revealed just how much heat and energy was being wasted in lengthy preheating times. “Out of convenience, supervisors will come in in the morning and go, ‘click
The Flavour of Calgary's Food Scene - Eat Well, Spend Less