Power outage: it's party time for waste collectors

Blackout outages: it’s a party for the waste-takers

The power outages that have occurred will have made a few people happy: the “waste-takers”, those people who recover food in the bins of supermarkets and restaurants.

“On this evening of power outage, search the dumpsters! It’s Christmas for us! can we read in a comment left on April 6 on the Facebook page “Dumpster Diving Montreal”. As proof, several images have been shared showing waste containers filled with food, mainly frozen products.

Food gleaners are delighted to have stocked up on food from the dumpsters of Métro and IGA grocers in the borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and those of an Intermarché located in Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Blackout of current: it’s a party for d’tarians

Food in a waste container of a grocery store in Hochelaga. Photo: Dumpster Diving Montreal, Facebook.

This is particularly the case for Carl, who has been practicing dechetarism occasionally for about five years. Yesterday, he went with a group of friends to a grocery store in the Sud-Ouest borough. In a waste container, they found “a lot more products than usual”, including packaged salads, a “huge” amount of spinach, a variety of cheeses, meat and frozen products. Enough to completely fill the community fridge in Building 7 in Pointe-Saint-Charles.

“It’s ridiculous the extent of food waste. There are people who cannot eat and there is so much still good food that ends up in the trash instead of donating it to organizations,” he laments.

Carl also adds that it’s not uncommon to see some grocery stores destroying edible food by putting it in compactors.

Lost food and money

A story that surprises the president of the Retail Council of Canada (RCCC), Michel Rochette, given the range of mechanisms in place to prevent edibles from getting lost. end up in the trash.

During a telephone interview, Michel Rochette reiterated on several occasions that the major food banners in the province have subscribed to the economic, health and environmental obligations provided for in the Supermarket Recovery Program to limit food waste as much as possible. Thanks to this initiative, their unsold food is distributed to Food Banks of Quebec (BAQ).

Additionally, when there is a power outage and refrigerators or freezers fail, food retailers normally pull out the “heavy artillery”.

“Food is transferred to refrigerated trailers or trucks or food is kept at the right temperature using generators,” said the president of the CCCD.

In the absence of having been able to preserve the food in an adequate manner, other programs established internally by the supermarkets provide that it must be composted, added Michel Rochette. If edible products ended up in the trash, “it's because the compost bin was already full,” he surmised. I see no other possibility. No business benefits from losing food, because it also loses money.”

In terms of food waste, Québec Solidaire has just tabled a bill aimed at requiring large retailers to donate their unsold food to community organizations. This initiative comes some time after the daily Le Soleil revealed that the convenience store chain Couche-Tard regularly sends thousands of filled and recyclable containers to landfills.

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