Food Waste Social Innovation Lab

Exploring our ideas by sculpting together. In this exercise, groups visualized their food waste solutions using representative symbols from everyday objects they found outside or at home.

With support from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, we piloted a Social Innovation Lab from September 2016 to August 2017 in Toronto to determine policy options to address one of the century’s biggest challenges: preventing food waste while honouring the knowledge and values of our Indigenous relations.

Using an approach from the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience, we strategically brought together a variety of stakeholders in a series of 3 workshops to gain a deep understanding of the system, then identified and prototyped innovations and opportunities that can address root causes of challenges.

Seeing the System
the System

We used whole system thinking tools to gain a broad and deep understanding of the system, bring a diversity of viewpoints, and open new possibilities for interpretation.


Social innovation tools were used to identify emerging patterns, programs, initiatives, ideas that could transform the system. Possible innovations and opportunities were explored.

Prototyping Solutions
Prototyping Solutions

Design thinking tools were used to prototype possible innovations and opportunities. A rapid iteration process was used to maximize learning while minimizing the feedback loop.

Contributing to Canada’s Food Policy

Following the workshops, Food Systems Lab was invited to the Summit on Canada’s Food Policy. We published a discussion paper with policy considerations for local, provincial, and federal governments based on our engagement with stakeholders and research.


Recap from Workshop 1
Recap from Workshop 2

Field Testing New Ideas

Two of the ideas generated from the Social Innovation Lab moved forward to being further developed and tested in the community by the Food Systems Lab.

Youth Engagement

A closed loop food system lesson plan for elementary school students.

Food Waste Campaigns

Testing the effectiveness of household food waste awareness campaigns.

Sponsors and Partners

Thank you to the generous sponsors and partners for supporting the Social Innovation Lab.


sig_dept_geographyplanning_655       tfpc-finalu-of-t-sustainability

rhizome-institute goal12logoheader