Food Rescue and Organic Waste Diversion Pilot expanded to Strathcona County

September 20, 2023

Food Rescue and Organic Waste Diversion Pilot expanded to Strathcona County

Below is a joint release about turning waste into a resource. It’s a pilot for Strathcona County business and industry which will benefit local farms and social agencies. 

Program seeks partners and business and institutional participants interested in trialing food waste diversion to compost

September 18, 2023 (Strathcona County, AB): Circular Innovation Council is delighted to launch its award-winning food rescue and organic waste diversion pilot with the Town of Westlock and Strathcona County. The initiative targets affordable food waste reduction for the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sector—Canada’s largest generator of food waste. Subsidized collections will launch in January 2024, and businesses and institutions are invited to register their interest at our website for more information.

Building on the success of its pilot project in Ontario’s Guelph-Wellington County, the pilot improves organic waste collection efficiency and affordability, while creating a circular solution for food waste that delivers social, environmental, and economic impact.

Pioneered by the Circular Innovation Council, the pilot mimics the residential food waste collection model, consolidating collections amongst neighbouring businesses and institutions so they are able to work together to reduce the cost of collection. Businesses are first supported to redirect surplus edible food, if any, to community service agencies, keeping food at its highest value, while organic waste is collected and diverted from landfill to compost. The nutrient-rich compost is applied to local regenerative mixed farms to improve soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for a truly circular food solution.    

Circular Innovation Council is partnering with local organizations AltRoot Composting, Leftovers Foundation, EcoSafe Zero Waste, and Green for Life (GFL) Environmental to help realize the project. Telus is also supporting the pilot with innovative sensor technology and platform to capture real-time organic waste data. The Council continues to add private sector sponsors interested in supporting cost-effective food waste solutions and improved organics weight data. Businesses and institutions generating food and food waste are invited to participate in this unique collective cost-sharing and data-driven pilot as a way to ensure food nutrients are captured and to reduce their environmental impact.

Strathcona County will host the pilot to learn how the consolidated and shared collection model can help meet the County’s waste diversion and emission reduction objectives. As a specialized municipality, Strathcona County is also interested in how the pilot can serve both an urban and rural setting. The pilot enhances access to affordable food waste diversion for businesses and institutions of all sizes, while connecting them with local charities to redistribute any surplus fresh food.

The Town of Westlock has invested in residential organics diversion, and is interested in understanding how the CIC model may help businesses and institutions in the region meet their waste diversion objectives by supporting equitable and affordable access to organics diversion for businesses and institutions of all sizes and types.

The pilot’s expansion to Westlock and Strathcona County is made possible thanks to funding by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s Environmental Impact Grant Program, as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, which selected this program as a finalist in their Business Models streams. The pilot received recognition from the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact’s biannual Global Forum as an internationally innovative food waste solution, selected from more than 250 programs submitted by 133 cities.

The program also strengthens social capital through enhanced business awareness of food insecurity as well as connections to community agencies, all while reducing diversion costs for those involved. The circular economy re-imagines consumption and production beyond the linear take-make-waste model. Circularity has the ability to improve the value of natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and eliminate waste. It redefines value and encourages innovation in product design and business delivery systems. Transitioning to a circular economy delivers positive economic, environmental, and social impact simultaneously.

For more information and to register your interest in learning more, visit

“We are thrilled to partner with Town of Westlock and Strathcona County to expand our pilot and show how innovative circular models can reduce food waste while delivering positive and local economic, environmental, and social impact. Advancing circular solutions is critical to achieving a sustainable food system as well as Canada’s carbon and waste reduction goals. The cooperative model shared between rural and urban communities is unique and critical to building the scale needed to coordinate investment and make the services affordable. The fact that the valuable compost will be utilized on local farms whose products could be sold within the community where the organics are collected fully completes the circle. We hope the pilot inspires  leadership and collaboration amongst other rural and semi-urban communities across Canada.” – Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Circular Innovation Council

“We are excited to welcome this pilot as it connects to our Waste Management Roadmap and the goal to get active participation from our business community in preventing and diverting waste from landfill. We know that affordability is essential to maximizing business and institutional organics diversion. This pilot has shown promising results in other jurisdictions, showing that businesses and communities can work cooperatively to not only reduce the cost and considerable environmental impacts of food waste, but also improve food access for community agencies and families facing food insecurity. We are excited to be able to invite businesses and institutions in Strathcona County to get involved.” – Leah Seabrook, Manager, Waste Services, Strathcona County

At Alberta Ecotrust, we believe that the key to a sustainable future lies in the power of collaboration. By bringing together industry leaders, government officials, Indigenous groups, and nonprofit organizations, we can build a strong foundation of trust and cooperation in pursuit of our vision of healthy ecosystems. That's why we're thrilled to support Circular Innovation Council and their partners who are leading the charge in creating a circular food economy by capturing food waste and promoting healthy communities, ensuring that everyone has access to good food, and reducing the environmental impact of the food system. - Rod Ruff, Vice President, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Facts and Figures:

  • Over 50% of all food in Canada is wasted every year, representing annual losses of more than $107 billion
  • One in six Canadian households continue to suffer from food insecurity
  • An estimated 8% of GHG emissions are caused by food waste
  • After 18-months of the Guelph-Wellington Food Waste Pilot, we have:
    • Diverted 303 tonnes of organic waste
    • Recovered $160,900 dollars-worth of surplus edible food
    • Meaning more than 48,000 meals were made available to the food insecure

Facts and figures

About Circular Innovation Council
Circular Innovation Council is a national, not-for-profit, membership-based organization with over 40 years of experience delivering programming that educates and empowers Canadians to take action on the circular economy and its environmental, economic and social benefits. In concert with our members and partners, we leverage our experience and expertise to deliver on the broad gains inspired by the circular economy through research, policy, programs, and pilots. Our mandate is to accelerate Canada’s transition toward a circular economy by putting concepts into action.

For media enquiries please contact:
Katie Motta
Project Manager, IC&I Food Diversion Pilot
Circular Innovation Council
+1.416.657.2797 x6

Media enquiries about Strathcona County’s participation in the pilot:
Strathcona County Communications, 780-410-6595
More information: