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Trent Lakes recognized for innovative achievement

by Sean Meyer, Municipal World
in Innovation
December, 2022

Canada’s food waste is equal to 56.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. When organic material is sent to landfill to decompose, it releases methane into the atmosphere. And unfortunately, food waste is the single largest waste stream found in landfills.

These are facts Chelsea Carpenter knows all too well. Carpenter is Supervisor of Waste at the Municipality of Trent Lakes. She has long wanted to do something about changing this reality. Well, at least at the local level.

Municipal World is pleased to recognize Trent Lakes’ efforts toward achieving this lofty goal with the Innovation Award, highlighting innovative Canadian communities with transformational approaches to delivering municipal services.

Food Waste Diversion

In 2021, the Municipality of Trent Lakes partnered with Food Cycle Science (FCS), an Ottawa-based company, to offer residents a Food Waste Diversion Program. The program was designed to provide residents the opportunity to pilot FCS’s FoodCycler technology. Food Cycle Science’s innovative technology is a countertop food recycler. The device offers a convenient and easy solution to manage everyday food waste, right at home.

Through this program, Trent Lakes is an implementation partner with FCS in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Impact Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge.

“I knew I wanted to do something with food waste. There’s so much of it in your household garbage. Almost up to 50 percent of waste in your household garbage is that of food waste,” Carpenter said. “So, it’s always been something that I wanted to try to find a solution to.”

FoodCycler units were first offered to 150 households at a subsidized rate. This reduction was provided through funding from Food Cycle Science, Impact Canada, and other municipal subsidies. After a successful initial pilot program, Trent Lakes expanded the program in 2022 to an extra 250 households.

Program Success

The FoodCycler is easy to use and only requires one cubic foot of space and a power outlet to get started. The machine breaks down food waste into a 10th of its original volume. It creates a dry, sterile, and nutrient-rich soil amendment that people can use to enrich their garden soil. The carbon filtration system eliminates odours, making it perfect for indoor use.

Currently, 400 households in Trent Lakes are now utilizing a FoodCycler. That usage has led to an estimated 96 metric tonnes of food waste diverted per year from the landfill. Carpenter said Trent Lakes has reduced its carbon footprint and weekly garbage quantities. It has also diminished local greenhouse gas emissions.

The municipality has also positioned itself as an environmental innovator in Canada. Trent Lakes is only the eighth municipality in the world to pilot this technology as a municipal solution to food waste.

“It’s been great to be innovative and almost a leader in getting this started and making a difference in the future,” Carpenter said. “It’s absolutely been great to show that yes, smaller municipalities, we can all make a difference.”

Municipal World also recognized two other innovative efforts with honourable mentions. Those include the drive-through voting initiative in Strathcona County, AB, and the climate action plan in Halifax, NS.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Sean Meyer’s article: Municipal World honours 2022 Women of Influence.

Sean Meyer is Senior Content Editor for Municipal World.

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