Rethinking Waste as a Resource
A food sciences student chooses to compost because they understand the direct impact of returning nutrients to soil. An apiculture student advocates for low-risk pesticides because they are personally invested in the health of honey bees. As individuals, their choices make a difference. What happens when an entire university makes better choices? What sort of impact can be had when experts, diverse academic units, students, operations and City staff collaborate to implement waste reduction ideas that create real change?
We’re finding out. Our university is our living lab. And when it comes to reducing waste, we’re putting it to hard work. We know that’s the only choice. Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth – 31 million tonnes annually. Canadians waste 2.2 million tonnes of edible food each year. Basic waste reduction measures aren’t enough.
We’re doing more, and these are our stories.
Our Circular Food Economy
Since 2017, the Sustainability Office, Hospitality Services and the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming have worked together to divert food scraps from landfill with a back of house composting program. All food scraps from across campus are composted and the compost is used as a soil amendment at the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. From that soil comes produce and flowers purchased by Hospitality Services for use in all their hospitality locations. In 2019, we diverted 100 tonnes of food scraps and coffee grounds from landfill. That’s full circle.
Reducing Single-Use Plastics
Hospitality Services is committed to transitioning away from single-use take-out containers and plastics from cafeterias across campus. Plastic straws and bags were removed in 2018. For our students, faculty and staff, a change in course was the only way forward; and that’s just a start. Physical Resources (Sustainability Office) and Hospitality Services are working in collaboration with the Ideas Congress (ICON) course to further explore options to phase out the use of unnecessary single-use plastics across all Hospitality Services locations. Plastic pollution is becoming on of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Inaction is no longer an option.