Let’s start with where food waste is created

86 percent of all food waste is generated within the food industry, not in households (Second Harvest, 2019).

As a business, Spent Goods is tackling food industry specific waste. This is also called IC&I waste (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional).

Our goal is to be a case study for sustainability within the food industry given its significant contribution to food waste.

Spent grains in Canada

To calculate how many tonnes of spent grains Canadian breweries produce and, of that number, how much ends up in landfill, we must make high level assumptions as Canadian statistics are limited.

Here is how we make the calculation.

According to research cited in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, every gallon of beer produced nets about 1.7 pounds of wet spent grain.

If Canadians drank 22.5 million hectolitres of beer in 2019, then this equals 1,010,458,099 pounds or 458,336 tonnes of spent grains produced in Canada.

Focus on Ontario craft brewing industry

Now let’s narrow our focus to Ontario. Craft breweries produced 788,524 hectolitres of beer (Ontario Craft Brewers, 2019), which equals 35,412,020 pounds or 16,063 tonnes. That’s 16 million kilograms of spent grains per year in Ontario.*

* Note – we recognize the differences between production vs landfilled spent grains. Especially in the craft brewing industry, we know there are limited options and have assumed most spent grains end up in landfills.

16 million vs 185 million kilos, which is it?

When we first looked into spent grains, we couldn’t find statistics on the Canadian Beer Industry so turned to the US for comparable data. We calculated 185 million kilos in spent grains, as follows:

  • USA based Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 6 billion lbs of spent grains are landfilled.
  • Assumed a conservative 5%* (instead of 7.5% of 6/80) of organic waste ends up in Canadian landfills is spent grains.
  • Estimated 5% of 3.7 million tonnes = 185,000 tonnes spent grains from Ontario’s 350 breweries.

Let’s make Beer Bread instead!

Spent Goods uses 65g of spent grains in each loaf of bread. If we diverted all 16 tonnes of spent grains Ontario generates in a year into bread, we could produce 247,123,077 loaves.  

Ontario’s population in 2019 was 14.57 million.

We could feed every Ontarian 18 loaves of bread every year with the diverted spent grains .

Cost to dispose spent grains in Canada

How much does it cost to send spent grains to landfill? For organic waste, that figure is approximately $150/tonne. Multiply that by 458,336 tonnes and you have $68l million.

What are those spent grains worth if diverted into food?

If, however, we made food from those 458,336 tonnes of spent grains discarded in Canada instead, we could produce 7,051,323,077 loaves of sourdough bread. With a retail value of $7 a loaf, this equals a potential gross revenue of $49 billion.

$681 million cost vs $49 billion dollar revenue.

Spent Goods Mission

If a single by-product from one industry can feed this many people, imagine if we started to process other by-products that are typically discarded.

Given 1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure (2018) we made it our mission to use locally available resources to feed Canadians.