The Town of Hawkesbury is the latest area municipality to consider a Food Cycler pilot program. 

On March 28, Ami Gagné of Ottawa-based Food Cycle Solutions appeared before Hawkesbury council and made a presentation about the system, which offers an alternative to backyard composting and curbside compost collection. 

A Food Cycler is a small appliance which looks similar in appearance and size to a home bread machine. Food Cycle Solutions machines are manufactured by Vitamix, but there are also other manufacturers in the industry. Food waste, such as table scraps or spoiled items from the refrigerator are placed in it, and within hours, it turns the waste into a dry, rich, soil-like substance, which can be added to yard waste, such as grass and leaves, or put to further compost use. 

The main idea behind the Food Cycler is to keep food waste out of landfills and reduce the amount of methane gas being created at landfill sites. Methane is a more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). 

For a municipality with a population of 2,500 to 10,000 residents, Food Cycle Solutions recommends a pilot program of 100 households at a cost of $12,500 to the municipality. East Hawkesbury recently approved a Food Cycler pilot program where residents are eligible to purchase the machines from the municipality at a subsidized cost. 

Following the presentation in Hawkesbury, Councillor Lawrence Bogue asked if any methane is created in the food cycler process. 

Gagné described it as a “closed loop” which gives the waste enough air, so no methane is created or emitted.  

“It heats up the food while it’s processing and it gives it plenty of air, so it actually goes through an aerobic decomposition,” said Gagné. Methane would only be created if the food cycler material was put in a landfill after processing. 

Councillor Robert Lefebvre suggested the town inquire with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) about grant support for a Food Cycler program in Hawkesbury. He remarked it would not be difficult to find 100 willing participants in Hawkesbury for a pilot program. 

Gagné said FCM grants are possible for permanent projects, not the pilot programs. 

Councillor Yves Paquette and Lefebvre suggested further discussions with Director of Public Works and Engineering Jonathan Wilson before a decision is made by council to proceed with a Food Cycler pilot program. Lefebvre suggested discussing the options at a Committee of the Whole meeting. 

Mayor Paula Assaly asked if more than 100 residents could participate in a pilot program if there was interest. 

Gagné said 100 residents just a suggestion and the number could be adjusted depending on what the municipality wants.  

Wilson said a minimum order of 50 Food Cycler machines are required for an order.   

“We will take this suggestion to another meeting,” Assaly said. 

Paquette moved for further discussions on a possible Food Cycler pilot program in Hawkesbury to take place at a future council meeting. Councillor André Chamaillard seconded the motion, and it was unanimously approved by council.