“Giving Waste a New Life”: a Behind the Scenes Tour at Guelph’s Waste Diversion Facility

Happy Sustainability Week from Guelph Food Waste! This past Monday, University of Guelph students went on a tour to the Waste Diversion Plant located on Watson Rd. in Guelph. After donning super exciting reflective vests, hardhats, eye protectors, and toe covers, a group of about 15 students spanning a variety of disciplines were taken to the organic composting facility as well as the recycling plant.

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Interactive Exhibit at the Guelph Waste Innovation Centre

Guelph is a Tier 1 waste management facility, which means that all waste that comes into this facility is processed on site. The waste received at this specific facility is from the City of Guelph and the Region of Waterloo. This facility formerly recycled plastics and other matter from Michigan, but has recently ceased those operations.

The city of Guelph operates a rotational waste collection system: Week A and B. Residents are asked to put out your organic waste weekly, along with either recyclables or trash, rotating every other week.

Organic matter that is taken to the facility becomes compost over several weeks. It is put in a series of tunnels with moisture and temperature carefully monitored. After about 6 weeks, the compost is then of a quality that is suitable for agriculture or landscaping purposes.

Recycling in Guelph is sorted by both machine and by hand. Plastics, paper, and metal are separated. Metal is first separated by magnet. Like items are consolidated and then put into large pallets to be re-sold. Recently, the facility has started to accept Styrofoam as a recyclable item, but only if residents drop it off themselves. In the future, residents may be able to put their Styrofoam waste in their blue bins, but not now.

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Unsorted recyclables just arrived at the facility

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Note the large belts that begin the sorting process. This is the first step before recyclables are sorted optically and by hand

If you are interested in touring the waste facility yourself, you can contact the Guelph Resource Innovation Center by visiting their website here.

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Tour participants Kelly and Marion

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Tour participant and intrepid reporter, Amy

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Update: France Bans Supermarket Waste

In July, we wrote about French Councillor Arash Derambarsh’s efforts to lead the way in food waste reduction for the EU. Last week his efforts paid off, at least for the country of France. French grocery stores that are 400 square meters or larger are now required by law to donate all of their excess food to either food banks or charities, or run the risk of being considerably fined. Furthermore, supermarkets are now banned from tampering with food they put in bins: previously either bleached, locked up, or otherwise rendered inedible. Finally, the law has relaxed restrictions on donations that can come directly from factories, eliminating much of the red tape in the process.

Councillor Derambarsh hopes French President Hollande is willing to take the rest of the EU to task on the issue of food waste, using France as an example.

You can read more about this story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets