Loyalist Township launches FoodCycler pilot project

Registration for the FoodCycler pilot project in Loyalist Township is now open. Photo via Loyalist Township.

Beginning this fall, residents in Loyalist Township will have the opportunity to take part in a new program aimed at reducing food waste. In partnership with Food Cycle Science, the Township will soon launch a 12-week pilot program for 100 residents to take part in. Participants will need to commit to purchasing one of two different FoodCycler unit options, with the municipality providing a $100 subsidy. 

The move comes after town councillors were first presented with information on the program back in 2021. On June 26, 2023, Loyalist Township Council voted to proceed with a 100-household pilot project, which is set to get underway this September. According to an information report included during the June meeting, the program is expected to save the Township $200,000 in food diversion costs. 

According to Dan Hendry, Climate Action Coordinator for Loyalist Township, the program is in line with commitments made by the municipality as part of the ResiLienT Climate Action Plan, which was approved in 2021.

“In February of 2021, Council passed the motion to accept the ResiLienT Climate Action Plan… A lot of communities have [similar] plans, which lay out different goals, but also potential actions… and goal number nine of [our] plan was diverting residential food waste, [which] is something that ties around the greenhouse gases associated with putting organics in the landfill,” Hendry explained.

“At the staff level, we’re always looking for opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases, as well as programs that fall in line with [our] past plans. FoodCycler has been with mid-size to smaller communities across Canada, and there was a lot of good feedback… [We heard] that residents like it, the units are clean, they’re easy, and relatively cheap,” he continued, noting that the program will help divert food waste away from the municipality’s Violet Sanitary Landfill site in Odessa. 

Loyalist Township Mayor Jim Hegadorn praised the new program ahead of its launch, saying, “This innovative initiative aims to address the issue of food waste ending up in our landfills while promoting environmental consciousness within our community.” 

In terms of how the program works to reduce food waste, FoodCycler units transform organic food waste into compost amendment in as little as four to eight hours. According to the Township, FoodCycler units can accept almost any kind of food waste, including fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, bones, shells, pits, coffee grounds, and more. The units work indoors and run quietly, with no odours or greenhouse gas emissions. Once the waste has been processed, residents are left with a dry, dust-like substance, which can be added as an amendment to their soil. 

FoodCycler units give individual residents complete control over the composting process. Photos via Loyalist Township.

In terms of how the pilot differs from traditional green bin compositing programs, the units give residents the ability to process their own compost amendment, instead of relying on the municipality’s existing waste management systems. Hendry noted, “Green bins are great, but they also cost a lot of money [for things like] trucking and capital costs. Loyalist Township’s population and tax base isn’t [the same as] that of other communities; we’re a smaller community. So… this is a different model, where you get more people doing it at home, using it on their properties to amend their soil.” 

As for how the pilot project is being funded, the Township has established a multi-level subsidization model. With Food Cycle Science providing an initial discount on the cost of each unit, the FoodCyclers are further subsidized thanks to a grant from the federal government’s Impact Canada Food Waste Reduction Challenge. Loyalist Township will then provide an additional $100 in funding for each unit. In total, the municipality will spend $11,500 to support the program. 

Residents participating in the pilot project must commit to purchasing one of two different FoodCycler units, with different volume capacities and processing times. The larger of the two, the FoodCycler Maestro, has a volume capacity of 5.0 litres, with a processing time of six to eight hours. The unit, which would normally cost $800, has a price tag of $300 for Township residents interested in taking part in the pilot. 

Meanwhile, the smaller of the two options, the FoodCycler FC-30, has half the volume capacity of the Maestro, coming in at 2.5 litres, and a processing time of four to eight hours. While the FC-30 typically costs $500, Loyalist Township residents will be able to pick up a unit for $150. 

On top of the commitment to purchase one of the units, residents must also agree to track their number of cycles over the 12-week period. There will also be a survey for participants to complete at the end of the program.

According to the information report shared with councillors ahead of the June meeting, each unit is expected to divert two tonnes of food over its lifetime. “Based on market rates of $100 per tonne of waste (fully burdened), 100 households participating would divert 200 tonnes of food waste,” the report noted. In terms of the overall environmental impact of such a program, the report stated, “every tonne of food diverted from landfill is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.3 tonnes of C02e.” 

After starting out in 2020 with pilot programs in the municipalities of Dysart et al. and Carleton Place, the FoodCylcer program is now available in more than 75 municipalities across Canada.

“At Food Cycle Science, we are committed to changing the way the world thinks about food waste,” said Jessica Taylor, Food Cycle Science’s Municipal Program Manager. “Our municipal programs empower residents to take ownership of their food waste and support their community’s sustainability goals. Residents also benefit from access to a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used in gardening applications right at home, improving circularity and keeping more trucks off the road. We look forward to supporting Loyalist Township in this forward-thinking initiative!”

Registration for the FoodCycler Pilot Project is live as of today, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, on the Township’s website.

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