At the heart of the global environmental crisis is one question: What are we doing with our organic food waste?
When you drill down to the essence of every climate concern, the ultimate culprit is almost always the bit that’s left over from some productive process or another, whether that’s industrial waste flowing into our waterways or automobile emissions collecting in our atmosphere. The same holds true for a half-eaten sandwich. Organic waste currently decomposing in Canadian landfills is — believe it or not — a major contributor to our collective climate emergency.
Founder and CEO
Tullio Bugada of Toronto has dedicated his 30-year career to managing Canada’s waste problem responsibly and deliberately. When he founded Waste Reduction Group (WRG), his goal was to reduce our impact on the environment through custom waste collection and specialized diversion plans that focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling waste materials. However, over time, he became increasingly frustrated by the amount of compostable organics that continued to find their way into landfills.
“Our focus is on reducing waste and increasing recycling. We want to keep resources in cycle instead of mining new resources, mimicking what nature does while conserving energy,” says Tullio. “The idea is that, instead of cutting down a tree and making paper from it, you collect your paper waste and make it into new paper again. It’s exactly the same with food waste. We can process it into compost instead of throwing it in the garbage. The compost can then be returned to the Earth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enriching the soil, and helping it hold more water to combat desertification.”
Move over carbon dioxide; methane is climate enemy number 1
For all the climate focus on carbon dioxide, the methane released from organic decomposition has eighty-six times the warming power over a twenty-year period once released into the atmosphere.
“What happens to an apple core in the landfill?” asks Tullio. “Yes, it biodegrades. But do the nutrients get returned to the farms or to the forest? Does it enrich the soil? Does it stabilize the soil? No, it doesn’t. It turns into methane, and the nutrients are lost forever.”
To help combat this, WRG works with their customers to compost all organic waste, significantly reducing methane emissions while returning those valuable nutrients to the soil.
Toward global leadership in methane reduction
Canada is leading the charge in reducing methane emissions, recently becoming the first country to sign onto both the Global Methane Pledge and the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 plan. To accomplish this, Canadian commercial, governmental, and institutional organizations are turning their attention to the full life cycle of their organic waste.
WRG is already helping several leading organizations to reduce their methane emissions through composting, including the University of Toronto, Carleton University, McMaster University, the Royal Ontario Museum, and Toronto General Hospital.
At Yorkdale Shopping Centre, a partner of WRG and one of Toronto’s most significant retail landmarks, responsible management of organic waste from its kitchens and food courts is a priority. “We wanted to find a partner who could ensure that our food waste would be properly composted,” says Beverley Egamino, Senior Property Manager, Yorkdale Shopping Centre at Oxford Properties Group. “We are always looking for innovative technologies that will allow us to improve our operations. Sustainability and circularity are fundamental values always top of mind at Yorkdale. We have over 800,000 litres of water recapture capacity that we use for irrigation. Additionally, we have two hives of honeybees and will soon introduce a thriving produce garden on our green roof. Our hope is that, in working with WRG, it will eventually become possible to repurpose our composted material for landscaping on site, creating another element of full circularity at the shopping center.” Further information on Yorkdale’s sustainability programming can be found here.
Vice President of Business Development
This encouraging mindset is increasingly common, WRG has found. And that has opened up new partnership opportunities with huge potential for environmental harm reduction. “We have built amazing partnerships with our customers as they’re no longer asking for their waste to just disappear, now asking important questions about where it’s going, what’s happening to it, and how we can help them complete the loop and achieve some level of circularity,” says Renata Ortega, Vice President of Business Development at WRG.
The methane emissions crisis demands a rapid transformation of how we handle organic waste in Canada.
Fortunately, with overall awareness of the impact of all types of waste on the rise and with the advent of knowledgeable experts like WRG, that transformation is already underway.