Let us begin with the most startling facts about food wastage in Canada – a whopping 58% of the food is WASTED every year which amounts to $49 billion, and that is 3% of Canadian GDP*. While the federal government has initiated the process for $50 million food surplus rescue program, it is not sufficient to wrap up the food wastage done by the hospitality sector or individuals alike.
Vancouver based company RETHINK2GETHER is on a mission to curb food wastage, enhance food sustainability, and improve the environment. Ben Liegey and Laure Dupuy, the Co-Founders of the company, have aimed to prevent food wastage and develop sustainable food systems in Canada. They provide sustainability consulting using the principles of circular economy, with an expertise in food waste prevention. Ben who is also involved in the Vancouver Food Policy Council states that with this initiative he wants people to “own the problem of food waste and look for solutions instead of throwing food out of convenience”. A lot of resources like effort to grow, harvest, packaging, and transportation are wasted with every ounce of food thrown.
Despite such astonishing numbers on food wastage, there is an average loss of 7% in annual revenues for the foodservice industry in British Columbia alone**. He suggests that food wastage problem is not just the biggest fish in the sea to catch instead it is the willingness of the business owner to understand that food wasted may as well be money wasted in the foodservice sector. Food supplies are one of the highest costs for a restaurant. And it becomes extremely important to track and measure food usage and waste. Ben stated that the first step to curb food wastage at company or the individual level is to simply start measuring and stop estimating. Every worth of food “wrongly estimated” can turn the business in loss. You can only manage what you measure! RETHINK2GETHER provides a food waste monitoring technology that helps hotel and restaurant owners to make measuring easy and affordable.
The company caters to foodservice industry, hospitality sector, government bodies, and consumers. He adds that the response was encouraging as many hotels and restaurants had come forward and shown interest. The company was also marketing many food sustainability solutions through festivals and events. And then the pandemic hit. He added “things have changed drastically in these few months and we had to create a new strategy that is coherent with the current times”. They now provide the certification “The PLEDGE on Food Waste” and have strengthened their presence online by hosting a variety of webinars, online events, and by providing their solutions 100% online.
Ben is also passionate for deriving a zero-waste city potential for Vancouver. He added that he is trying his best to get a commitment of 50% reduction in food wastage from the City of Vancouver by 2040 just like Toronto. Toronto is the only city in Canada to have such a public target and the government should welcome such endeavours from more such cities.
Food wastage is one of the most crucial and pressing problem faced by the world today. According to the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, it is estimated that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019. And food wastage makes it worse with each passing day. Governments, citizens, civil society organizations, and private sector must collaborate to innovate, invest, and create lasting solutions to create a balanced society. It is time to rethink, reduce waste, and feed people.
About the Co-Founders: Ben and Laure are passionate about food sustainability and food waste consulting. They are on a mission to help and inspire food businesses, consumers and decision-makers to see that food is too valuable, supporting them to make wiser choices and leave lesser carbon footprint in the world.
*Second Harvest & VCM International 2019
**BC Ministry of Environment