Possible food recycling program coming to Fort

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances households could have a new food recycling in-house option to get rid of their food waste.

In a presentation received by council during last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Christina Zardo, manager at municipal solutions, and residential in-home waste diversion pilot program, said the Ottawa-based business manufactures food recycling appliances that they sell through partners.

They sell the appliance through their Municipal Solutions team, which has a residential program that helps municipalities divert more food waste from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste.

Zardo said food waste is avoidable as it accounts for a large portion of household waste.

“It’s smelly, and it’s made up of mostly liquid which is heavy and freezes in the winter,” Zardo said. “And on top of that, when you have food waste decomposing in landfills, it’s responsible for generating harmful greenhouse gases. So all of these factors make it so that food waste is a problem that has a strong municipal impact.”

Zardo explained that one of these impacts to municipalities is that since food waste makes up so much of what’s in our garbage, it causes our landfills to fill up quickly. She said this option could help the town save costs by extending landfill lifespan, and help residents keep their waste to a minimum while reducing unpleasant smells.

Zardo said food waste has been addressed by big cities that have green recycling bins that are not available to small town residents.

“Essentially, we’ve built a small kitchen appliance. It’s about the size of a bread machine, where you put in your food waste, and that can include meat, fish, poultry, dairy, even some bones, you push a button, and in a matter of hours, you have a dry, sterile, odourless and nutrient rich soil amendment that comes out. You can use the machine anywhere with the plug such as your kitchen, basement, heated garage or shed.”

The food cyclical process averages about two and a half litres of food waste per cycle, she explained. One cycle takes between four to eight hours to complete and uses less than one kilowatt hour of power.

Zardo said since Fort Frances has some of the lowest cost power in Ontario, these costs would be really quite low for the user. The result of the process is a handful of dry sterile soil amendments that can be used in gardening or landscaping and your existing composting system shared with a local farm can even be processed with existing leaf and yard waste systems that may already be in place.

She said this is not to be confused with compost or fertilizer, but the nutritional aspect of the food could help in gardening.

Zardo said one thing they learned from working with their municipal partners is that their residents are very interested in being part of the solution. They want to try new things, they want options, she said.

Zardo proposed to council a pilot program that will run for 12 weeks. Residents will purchase a food cycler at a subsidized rate from the municipality, they’ll use the unit tracking the number of cycles per week.

“At the end, they get to keep a food cycler and continue using it of course, and we asked them to complete a brief survey so that we can calculate net new diversion, and evaluate the overall success of the program,” Zardo said.

Zardo said they also work with many small rural, remote and northern communities. As of today, adding that there are 35 Canadian municipalities across seven provinces and territories who have signed on to the Food Cyclar program.

The retail price of a recycling appliance is $500, and if the town is in favour of the pilot project, they will be sold to participants for $175.

Council voted to refer the item to the Operations and Facilities Executive Committee for input.