Our vision for Canada is to reduce food waste, and have more people participating in composting. $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year. This is approximately 40% of food produced yearly in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 2007 Canadians wasted the equivalent of 183 kilograms of solid food per person. Most of our food waste goes to the landfill, where it creates methane gas which is 25x more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
While we already have a worm composting bin at our school, they act more as demonstration of nature’s system, not as a real-world solution to food waste. They take up a lot of space, are slow to create compost and are fussy about what types of food they eat. We discovered some new-to-the-market automatic composters, which use heat and grinding to break down food scraps. They are fairly small, take all kinds of food waste, and complete their cycle in just a few hours. The Food Cycler creates 94% less greenhouse gas emissions than sending food scraps to your landfill, even though it consumes very little energy (1kWh when in use). The Food Cycler even produces 50% less Co2 than backyard composters.
We received several grants to purchase our Food Cyclers and compost bins which we put in each classroom. We made a movie that we showed to all students and staff so they would know how our program would work. We liased with our Leader In Me team to create a Leadership club for composting. Each class has 1-2 students who are responsible for taking their collection bin to the composting room each day. There we have other club members who are responsible for putting food waste in the composters each day.
Through random garbage analysis we estimated that each class was throwing out about .75 litres of food waste a day. By collecting from all of our classroom, our kitchen and staff room, we estimate that we are collecting about 9 litres of food waste a day and diverting it from our landfill, thus reducing our carbon footprint. We expect to have diverted almost 1000 litres of food waste by the end of this school year.
Reflection & Celebration
Our project has received a lot of attention. We presented it at Destination Conservation, a science program that runs in our school district. We also presented it to the School Board Trustees during a District Spotlight session. We have also been featured in our school and district twitter accounts and newsletters. Our aim with the project was to show that composting in a school was feasible. It can be done on a wide scale without a massive amount of resources, and much more efficiently than with traditional composters. We hope to encourage other schools and businesses in our community to learn more about the Food Cyclers and integrate them into their organizations.