Study of the potential for Montrealers to reduce the impact of food waste using a life cycle approach

The CIRAIG conducted a study mandated by the City of Montreal to assess the environmental benefits and the economic savings of reducing food waste initiatives using a life cycle approach, in order to identify the most effective actions.

The Office of Ecological Transition and Resilience of Montreal mandated the CIRAIG to conduct a study on the impacts of food wasted by Montreal citizens. Employing a life cycle approach, this study aimed to assess the environmental benefits (specifically potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions) and the economic savings (in $) from initiatives to reduce food waste. It sought to identify effective actions to reduce citizens’ food waste and possible obstacles to their implementation. Within this study, consultation workshops with stakeholders were conducted to recommend actions to be prioritized by the City of Montreal for optimizing results.   The Quebec Consumer Life Cycle Inventory database was used to provide regionalized results, covering all life cycle stages of 58 food categories. In addition, several optimization scenarios were tested to identify the food categories with the highest potential for reducing GHG emissions in the city of Montreal and savings for the consumers. The results highlighted meat and fish products, nuts, and more surprisingly, chocolate and coffee as having the best potential for reducing GHG emissions and providing savings for the consumer.   Key figures:
  • Food waste represents 17% of our diet’s carbon footprint.
  • The average Montrealer wastes about 15% of their food products, which represents approximately 210 kg/year or an average of $1000 a year.
  • A total of 282,500 tonnes of food are wasted at home each year in Montreal.
  • Eliminating food waste in Montreal households could result in a reduction of 560,000 tons of CO2 eq./year, equivalent to a savings of $1.4 billion per year (for consumers).
  Regarding anti-food waste initiatives, various actions such as the use of meal boxes, sourcing from bulk stores, and composting were assessed and compared to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each.   In conclusion, to reduce the carbon footprint associated with food waste, it is important to:
  • Favor source reduction over waste treatment.
  • Prioritize the reduction of waste from meat and fish, nuts, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Favor proximity (food products accessible within walking distance), group purchases or deliveries, active transport (e.g., biking), or low-emission transport (e.g., electric vehicles).
For mor information and to get access to the report, please contact us.

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