Hawkesbury residents will soon be able to turn table scraps into dirt. On October 10, town council approved a pilot project to purchase 150 Food Cycler appliances for residents to buy.

The small appliance, which looks a lot like a countertop bread making machine, is produced by a company called Food Cycle Science.  Food waste, such as table scraps or spoiled items from the refrigerator are placed in the machine, 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 at home. In March 2022, the Township of East Hawkesbury also approved a Food Cycler pilot project. The idea behind the Food Cycler is to keep food waste out of landfills, reduce greenhouse gases created by decomposing food waste, and provide a practical alternative to composting for urban residents.

According to information provided by the Town of Hawkesbury, the Food Cycler can reduce up to 90 per cent of the food waste volume a household produces. It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food waste up to 95 per cent, and only costs about $2 in energy per month. The Food Cycler is also odourless.

Representatives of Food Cycle Science first presented the Food Cycler to Hawkesbury council on August 28, 2023. A staff report to council explains how Ontario’s Food and Organic Waste Policy requires municipalities to provide resources to residents which will encourage resource recovery from food and organic waste. The Hawkesbury and Area Joint Recycling Committee amended its 2023 budget which resulted in extra funds being available for waste diversion initiatives. The cost of the 150 units is $16,750 and the surplus in the recycling committee budget would be used to cover the costs. The price residents pay for each unit has not yet been announced. A 12-week trial and survey period for Food Cyclers in Hawkesbury is set to begin on January 9, 2024 and continue until March. During that time, Food Cycle Science will use the information gathered from users to determine if changes are needed to the product and to get an indication of the frequency with which the appliances are being used. Council unanimously supported having a Food Cycler pilot project in Hawkesbury. Registration for interested residents is now open. Depending on the model residents choose, the units will cost residents $150 or $300. To register, and see the specifications for each model, go to http://bit.ly/FCSHawkesbury. The Food Cycler will also be on display at the Hawkesbury Expo on November 11and 12.