Circular Food Innovation Lab launches to help businesses cut food waste and costs

The Circular Food Innovation lab is an opportunity to collaborate with companies throughout the food chain towards circular solutions so food grown for people doesn’t go to waste.

March 31 2022 – As food prices rise, many Vancouverites are feeling the effect on their budgets. Impacts on our local food industries from extreme weather events and supply chain interruptions are highlighting the importance of eliminating avoidable food waste across Vancouver. Through the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Economic Transformation Lab (ETL), and in partnership with Emily Carr University of Art and Design and Mitacs, we have created the Circular Food Innovation Lab to test solutions to this problem.
Vancouver’s food distributors, processors, restaurants, grocers, and other food businesses are invited to participate in the Circular Food Innovation Lab, which begins April 27, 2022 and is expected to wrap up by January 2023.

The Circular Food Innovation Lab can help participating businesses to:

  • Explore ways to risk-proof their business and adjust to rapid change and uncertainty
  • Increase profits by reducing costs related to food waste
  • Learn from fellow food businesses tackling similar challenges
  • Access free expertise, tools, and services to reduce food waste
  • Inform future policies to prevent and reduce wasted food in Vancouver’s food supply chain
  • Develop innovative food waste solutions that show leadership in their industry
  • Contribute to the formation of an industry-led taskforce to solve wasted food in Vancouver

Michael Shank, co-director of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance
“Wasted food is the low-hanging fruit of the emissions reduction world. And with food prices soaring, the public and political will is there to make our food systems more efficient and more sustainable,” says Michael Shank, co-director of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. “Now is the time to lead. Vancouver’s innovation in this circular space is critical and we at the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance look forward to leveraging their lab’s lessons-learned for the benefit of our entire city network.”


Food waste is a widespread issue: in 2019, the Canadian food industry lost an estimated $39 billion in revenue due to 8.79 million tonnes of avoidable, unplanned food waste. In Vancouver alone, businesses discarded 25,000 tonnes of edible food that year, an amount equal to 37,000 meals lost.

Investing into initiatives to reduce food waste yields ready dividends: a 2017 study by the World Resources Institute External website, opens in new tab found that for every dollar invested in preventing or reducing wasted food, businesses could save $14.