The average Canadian generates about 79 kilograms (kg), or 174 pounds, of food waste per year. Enter Loop Resources, a company that helps to close the loop on organics waste disposal in the food supply industry, taking food from the end of the line at the store, back to the beginning as feed and compost at local farms.
“Loop is all about building relationships and problem-solving at a community level,” says Sarah Amalia, team leader with the company. “We provide simple systems with safe liability structures that enable retailers to divert 100 per cent of their unsaleable food away from landfill, towards those in their community who can use it best.”
Food is first diverted to humanitarian organizations, then to animal feed, fuel, or composting material. The food that is reusable for human consumption is sent to food banks and other charities. Loop Resources works with food safety teams to ensure that all food-safety concerns and requirements are met.
Secondly, the food is sent to farmers and producers to feed to their animals. Some producers have said their meat has an even better taste and quality because of the participation in the program.
Thirdly, items that cannot be fed to animals are turned into fuel and bioenergy such as bio-diesel products, cellulose to electricity, and alternative solid fuel products.
Lastly any unused waste is then used for compost materials. Loop also encourages farmers in their program to create a compost pile for their own use. The Loop program creates a sustainable way to help local communities and businesses—a win-win for everyone involved.
Loop Resources started five years ago in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, on a family farm that was trying to reduce operating costs. Slowly making their way across Canada, in 2021 they entered into a partnership agreement with Federated Co-ops in Roblin, Carman, and Dauphin. Due to the immense pressure of the drought conditions last summer, they approached Loblaws for special permission to launch in Manitoba Great Canadian Superstores—originally slated for mid-2022—early, so that they could get more feed into the hands of farms as soon as possible. So far, there are 204 farms in the program.
“We love working in Manitoba, and the impact our program is having in the lives of everyday folks. The total food waste diverted from Manitoba landfills in 2021 was over 1.2 million kg. Since we started, that number is over 3.4 million kg,” says Amalia. “It’s hard to envision that sort of thing, but it’s the equivalent weight of about 30 blue whales. In trucks, that’s what over 85 B-trains can carry. What was once total waste is now an amazing resource.”