Smart Cities Office wins Sustainable Communities Award

Smart Cities Office wins Sustainable Communities Award

Guelph, Ont., February 8, 2023— The City of Guelph and Wellington County’s joint initiative, Our Food Future, has received the 2022 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award – Waste Category.

The award recognizes the research project Mapping Food and Food Waste Flows in Guelph-Wellington for Waste Redirection and Reduction. The research examined how the community produces, distributes, sells, and consumes food to determine where losses or waste occurs along the food chain. By identifying the waste hotspots, researchers can focus intervention strategies to reduce food waste or redirect avoidable waste to another value stream.

In the study, researchers analysed more than 70 sets of data. The analysis shows that specific food categories, such as fruit losses before manufacturing and losses of cereals at the processing stage, warrant deeper investigation. Storage and packaging also represent an important area of loss for fruits and vegetables, likely due to their vulnerability to damage and shorter shelf life. Focusing on these hotspots will provide a more significant overall impact than other points of intervention in the supply chain.

The food waste flow study is a first of its kind in Canada and sets the stage for other regions to more accurately understand where food waste occurs.

“We are proud that this important study is being recognized. One of our goals with this project was to establish a methodology that could be replicated and shared with other regions. We know that many other Canadian communities are interested in the circular economy work we’re doing. The great majority of the data we collected is publicly available. That means the model we’ve created can now be more easily repeated by other regions looking to introduce more circular practices into their food system,” says David Messer, executive director, Smart Cities Office.

The Our Food Future initiative was launched in 2019 to implement a circular food economy in Guelph and Wellington County after being awarded $10 Million from Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge. Strong interest from businesses and social enterprises led to opening the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) in 2021 with an additional $5 Million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Additional quotes

“Congratulations to everyone involved in this ground-breaking study. The City is committed to the United Nations Race-to-Zero campaign and has set targets for the community to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The circular economy initiative is important work that helps us reach these targets.”

Cam Guthrie, Mayor, City of Guelph

“This innovative project collected meaningful data that helped build a better understanding of our entire local food chain. We found solutions to food waste problems that have the potential to address economic inequality while also reducing our carbon footprint. Thank you to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for recognizing us with this award.”

Warden Andy Lennox, County of Wellington

About Our Food Future

 Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build Canada’s first tech-enabled circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, create 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future demonstrates one of the ways the City of Guelph and County of Wellington are contributing to a sustainable, creative and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

Launched in April 2021, with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) are an innovation platform and activation network focused on creating, proving, and scaling transformative solutions across all sectors – starting with food and environment – in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a climate-smart circular economy.

COIL is a sister initiative to Our Food Future – both led by the Smart Cities Office, a joint local government project of the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington. Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a social-finance initiative that supports impactful projects to strengthen local communities.

COIL programs, tools and resources are delivered as a collaboration between the City of Guelph, the County of Wellington, Innovation Guelph, 10C Shared Space and Anthesis Provision.

Media contact

David Messer, Executive Director
Smart Cities Office
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3661
[email protected]