The (big) problem of food waste

According to a new study by Recyc-Québec, more than 40% of food becomes food waste, much of which ends up in landfills. The main culprits are Quebec families and manufacturing industries.

Posted at 6:00 am

Eric Pierre champagne

Eric Pierre champagne
The press

7.5 million

Total weight of food entering the supply chain in Quebec in 2019, i.e. 7.5 million tons. This corresponds to 2.43 kg per capita and day.

3.1 million

Total weight of food waste in Quebec, i.e. 3.1 million tons. This corresponds to 1.01 kg per capita and day.

Photo MICHAEL F. MCELROY, New York Times Archives

What are leftovers?

The Recyc Québec Report entitled Quantification study of food loss and waste in Quebec, revealed Wednesday, reports food residue, which consists of lost or wasted edible food and associated inedible parts. The first category obviously refers to uneaten foods, while the second refers specifically to animal bones and fruit and vegetable peelings.

Which foods are wasted the most?

Fruits and vegetables account for nearly half of the province’s food waste, far ahead of crops. Losses during the milling of grain and the crushing of oilseeds fall into this category in particular.

Who produces the most food waste?

Most of the food waste is found in processing industries, followed by households in Quebec.

Who wastes the most food?

Here, Québec households are ahead of retail and food production and processing. When it comes to households, we are talking about 339,198 tons that are wasted every year.

Where do the leftovers go?

More than a third of Quebec’s food waste ends up in landfills. Only a quarter ends up in the compost. The same proportion is reused in animal feed.

Half of edible food is thrown away

For edible food, nearly half goes straight to landfill as the province’s landfills overflow.

20.2 million

Number million tons of CO2 related to Quebec’s organic food system, ie 20.2 million tonnes of CO equivalent2. Wasted edible food accounts for 17.7% of this total, or 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent2.

Landfill reduction, a priority

This report is a first for Recyc-Québec, which “wanted to measure the extent of the food waste phenomenon in Quebec in order to identify possible solutions for the future,” explains Sophie Langlois-Blouin, Vice President, Performance of Operations in Recyc-Québec. One of the organization’s priorities will be reducing the amount of food going to landfill, says the vice president. “The positive point of this study is that it distinguishes between inedible food and edible food that is wasted,” says Éliane Brisebois, coordinator and research officer at UQAM’s Research Chair in Ecological Transition. There are smaller numbers, but the problem [du gaspillage alimentaire] still be serious. »


A study by the United Nations Environment Program estimates that 931 million tons of food was wasted in 2019, or 17% of all the food available on the planet.

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