By David Piccini

On average, each of us generates the equivalent of two polar bears in waste each year. Much of this is food waste, and if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

Those leftovers we never ate have traditionally gone into landfills where they create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a big problem for our planet. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide and fighting it is critical to fighting climate change.

That is why this Waste Reduction Week Ontario we supported companies that are putting our waste to new use.

Consider renewable natural gas, which can be made from everything from the food in your green bin to agricultural waste like leftover crops. Companies like StormFisher in London convert waste into renewable biogas that is captured and cleaned before being added to the natural gas network that heats our homes.

Making energy from waste represents a huge opportunity to keep methane out of our atmosphere and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Plus, it is great news for jobs and regional economic development.

David Piccini, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Compared to traditional garbage disposal, waste recovery generates 30 per cent more jobs and 60 per cent more GDP. In Ontario, this supports 1,100 clean, green jobs and generates over $100 million in GDP and growing.

Ontario is lucky to be home to innovative facilities that have the skill and technology to help this sustainable clean fuel take off, and our government is committed to policy that unlocks this enormous potential.

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We are embracing new technologies and innovations to tackle the ongoing problem of waste and litter at home, at work and in our communities. This includes creating a new revenue stream for the agriculture sector to make renewable natural gas from farm waste right at the source. Today there are 40 agri-food anaerobic digesters across the province, a key part of renewable natural gas creation.

Our government is bringing landmark change to how we recycle by introducing a convenient and standardized Blue Box Program and exploring new technologies for materials that couldn’t be recycled in the past. We have made huge progress on batteries: from going directly to landfills, over 50 per cent of Ontario’s single use batteries are now being collected to be recycled into products like fertilizer and metal for reuse.

Of Ontario’s waste, 22 million pounds of plastic ends up in our Great Lakes annually. So, we are working with Pollution Probe to collect and study plastic waste and pull it out of the water for proper disposal using innovative plastic-capture technology. This is the largest freshwater cleanup of its kind in Canada. We are also actively exploring more ways to boost our province’s ability to process compostable products and packaging.

Not all leftover food needs to become waste. Earlier this week, I had the chance to visit Second Harvest Food Rescue, an organization that Ontario is supporting with $1.2 million through our Surplus Food Redistribution Infrastructure program. The team at Second Harvest has delivered 100 million lbs. of food to those in need – that’s nourishing food on the dinner table rather than going to waste – and will now increase this by 300% thanks in part to our investment.

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Beyond Waste Reduction Week, I encourage all Ontarians to join us in our mission to reduce the waste we create, reuse and recycle more, and contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Ontario.

By making conscious daily choices as consumers, we can go a long way to make our province – and our planet – free from waste for future generations.

David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

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