The Impact of Food Waste on the Environment

This blog was written by Nature Canada guest blogger Dylan Moskowitz.

On this World Environment Day, we are discussing sustainability, food waste in Canada, and the impact that is has on our environment. Unfortunately, sustainability isn’t so easily defined when it comes to its relationship with the global environment, as we have the tendency to understand sustainability only on a superficial level. Nonetheless, to influence change and to protect wildlife and landscapes across Canada, we must ask ourselves: what is sustainability to each of us, and how does the term influence what we do in our daily lives? Today, we are focusing our what can be done by each of us, starting with the food we buy, but don’t eat.


According to a recent study conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the average Canadian wastes over 170 kilograms of food per year. This staggering statistic indicates that food waste is highly correlated to over-consumption and financial mismanagement. Besides financial toll, the amount of food waste in Canada also shows that there is an opportunity for food to be diverted from landfills, and put to a better use from the get-go.  FoodBanks of Canada reported that 13% of Canadians do not have enough access to quality food. The high amount of food insecurity in Canada further suggests that if fellow Canadians bought less food, cooked meals ahead of time, or even composted food themselves, the problems of increasing food waste and food insecurity would be greatly mitigated.

Beyond personal satisfaction, reducing food waste has obvious environmental benefits. The environmental impact of food waste stems from the greenhouse gases that result from its preparation and decomposition. Methane from food waste rotting in landfills is 25 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It is not only the methane from food waste that must be considered, but also the methane emitted and resources used throughout the entire period of growing, processing and transporting food.

The current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has pledged to cut methane emissions from 40-45% by the year 2025. This pledge by the Trudeau administration further implies that Canada is aiming to become a major contender on how we perceive, treat, and use food waste to create a more effective and efficient society. Apart from introducing a “new Canadian society,” the political pledges made by the current Canadian administration demonstrates that reducing methane emissions provides incentives for both companies and individuals for the health of our entire societies.


By diminishing our individual food waste we can begin the journey to reduce the impact of food waste on wildlife and nature in Canada, and move forward to make Canada one of the primary influences of sustainability


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