Our new compost program: sustainability at the NAC

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon © Fred Cattroll

The National Arts Centre and the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, have unveiled an innovative program that will introduce plant-based food and drink containers and transform them into rich compost to be put into herb gardens at the NAC. The move will divert 500,000 containers from the landfill annually.

As the NAC’s Food & Beverage Department, we are uniquely positioned to create substantial changes that will positively impact the environment, and are committed to doing so.

Six years ago, we initiated the use of the ORCA system in the NAC kitchen, which turns most food waste into grey water through anaerobic digestion, eliminating the need for storage and transportation of that waste.

Now we’re implementing the use of compostable dishes, rather than plastic, at our intermission bars, the employees’ Green Room (cafeteria) as well as at public events held here at the NAC. The infrastructure needed to support the collection and transformation of these dishes into compost has been established, which means our dishes will actually be transformed into earth nurturing compost (rather than ending up in a landfill).

In addition, we plan to use some of the compost we create to fertilize an herb garden on the roof of the NAC, which will serve as a source of natural ingredients for the NAC kitchen and also work cohesively with bee hives being introduced on the roof of the NAC this year.

We recognize that our department, in providing patrons and guests with a considerable amount of meals and refreshment, also produce a substantive amount of disposable material. It is our responsibility and mission to minimize environmental impact and give back to the earth whenever we can.

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