Toronto Mall Food Court All But Eliminates Food Waste And Packaging

A waste audit of the food court at Carleton University in Ottawa last year found that only 12 per cent of waste was recycled or composted, even though 22 per cent of the waste headed for the dump could have been recycled and 71 per cent could have been composted.

Those stats are probably indicative of what’s happening on a much larger scale right across the country – but not at the Yorkdale Shopping centre in Toronto. Ever since Yorkdale opened its new, greener third-floor food court in 2012, much of the waste has been reduced through the use of reusable plates and cutlery. The facility washes 75,000 dishes and 53,000 pieces of cutlery a week. The food court at Yorkdale Shopping Centre used to generate 120 bags of garbage a day. Now it produces just three — despite the fact that it serves noodles, fried chicken, burgers and other fast foods to 24,000 customers a day.

According to Claire Santamaria, the mall’s general manager, the most confusing things for customers is trying to find the garbage cans — there are none. All customers have to do is hand their fully loaded tray over, dirty dishes, takeout containers and all, and mall staff do the rest, separating waste and collecting the food scraps to be dehydrated. An old school solution to a modern day problem.

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