New HEAL study identifies factors associated with household food waste disposal in the City of Toronto
A team of researchers led by HEAL Senior Research Associate Dr. Paul van der Werf, with Kristian Larsen, Jamie A. Seabrook and Jason Gilliland, recently published a study entitled: “How Neighbourhood Food Environments and a Pay-as-You-Throw (PAYT) Waste Program Impact Household Food Waste Disposal in the City of Toronto.”
It is estimated that 30-40% of household garbage consists of food waste. A four-season waste characterization study was undertaken at 200 single-family households, across eight neighbourhoods, in Toronto, Ontario. The City provides residents with a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste program that includes a choice of four garbage cart sizes (Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large), with increasing annual user fees ($18.00–$411.00 CAD), as well as a green cart (organic waste). On average, each household disposed 4.22 kg/week of total food waste, of which 61.78% consisted of avoidable food waste, annually valued at $630.00–$847.00 CAD/household. Toronto’s PAYT waste program appears effective at diverting food waste into the green cart (69.70%), but, not at reducing its generation. Higher median incomes were positively correlated with total and avoidable food waste disposal. Higher supermarket density and distance to healthier food outlets were associated with more total and avoidable food waste disposal. Distance to fast food restaurants and less healthy food outlet density were both negatively associated with avoidable food waste disposal in the garbage and green cart, respectively.
Avoidable food waste reduction interventions could include increasing garbage cart fees, weight-based PAYT, or messaging to households on the monetary value of avoidable food waste, and working with food retailers to improve how households shop for their food.
Citation: Paul van der Werf, Kristian Larsen, Jamie A. Seabrook and Jason Gilliland (2020) “How Neighbourhood Food Environments and a Pay-as-You-Throw (PAYT) Waste Program Impact Household Food Waste Disposal in the City of Toronto.” Sustainability 12(17), 7016; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177016