Calculating the greenhouse gas emission reductions from donations made to food banks

Avoidable food waste is a serious problem exacerbating both household food insecurity in Canada and climate change.

According to the National Zero Waste Council, an astonishing 63 per cent of all the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten.

Food that is diverted to landfills releases large amounts of greenhouse gases that trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere, fueling global warming and climate change.

With data from Food Banks Canada showing that that one in five Canadians report going hungry — and 23 per cent reporting that they are eating less “than they think they should” because there isn’t enough money for food — it is crucial that we take steps to support the recovery and donation of surplus food and distribution to those that need it.

READ MORE: How food banks helped avoid over 100 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions

One of the most impactful ways to reduce greenhouse gases is to recover and donate safe-to-consume surplus food and distribute it to vulnerable populations.    

Through food recovery initiatives, our national network of 4,750 food banks and community organizations collectively mitigates the emission of greenhouse gases by diverting edible food that would otherwise be destined for a landfill to individuals and families who are in need. 

Introducing Food Banks Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator

To help our network quantify the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that have been prevented from unnecessarily entering the environment — by rescuing, donating, and redistributing food to vulnerable populations across Canada – Food Banks Canada has developed a Greenhouse Gas Calculator.

Designed by Food Banks Canada and VCMI, with support from our partner, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the Greenhouse Gas Calculator demonstrates the environmental impact of food donations by showing environmental equivalencies, such as the amount of electricity and fuel that were prevented from entering the atmosphere, and the number of meals the donation represents.

Available to Food Banks Canada’s network, the calculator will help food banks monitor and report the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions achieved by receiving food donations that would otherwise have been destined for a landfill. 

Interested in learning more about food recovery initiatives and innovation? Check out Food Banks Canada’s resources on Food Recovery and the Environment.