About This Project
The Canadian team of the Social Innovation Management for Bioplastics (SIMBIO) is based at the Food Systems Lab of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, on unceded Coast Salish Territory; the traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Building on our experience from running a food waste social innovation lab in Toronto, we will be using a similar methodology, adapted into an online format due to COVID-19 to explore the following research questions:
- What are the social and environmental roles of bioplastic packaging in the global context of sustainable food production and consumption?
- What is the current understanding of bioplastic packaging for food from the perspectives of consumers and businesses?
- Under what circumstances is bioplastic packaging the best option for storing and transporting food?
- What are alternative products with lower environmental footprints that can be used instead ofbioplastic packaging?
- How does the resource extraction and industrial processing for producing bioplastic packagingaffect food security, the ecosystem, and the well-being of those impacted?
- If the quantity of bioplastic packaging increases substantially, how will these products impact theformal and informal recycling, composting, and waste management sector?
- If bioplastic packaging is the best option for certain scenarios, what are product design parameters,processes, policies, and supporting systems that need to be in place to manage a supply chain of these packaging materials that minimizes negative environmental and social impacts?
Social Innovation Lab Process
Our team conducted interviews with stakeholders throughout the supply chain who influence and/or are impacted by the production, use, and end-of-life management of bioplastic packaging, including those who are normally excluded from design and decision-making processes. These findings informed a webinar that took place in summer 2020.
We held a series of online workshop sessions in the fall of 2020 to dive deeper into key issues and identify leverage points. Our workshops in winter and spring 2021 were on designing solutions and prototypes. The design brief and workshop summaries can be downloaded via these links:
Findings from this project were presented at a webinar on July 6, 2022. The following open access journal articles were published:
- Reflections From Implementing a Virtual Social Innovation Lab
- The complex role of single-use compostable bioplastic food packaging and foodservice ware in a circular economy: Findings from a social innovation lab
Dr. Tammara Soma
Dr. Tammara Soma holds a Ph.D. in Planning (2018) from the University of Toronto and is a Co-Founder of the Food Systems Lab. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University where she conducts research on issues pertaining to food system planning, waste and the circular economy. Prior to SFU, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, a Researcher at the University of Guelph, and the Food Equity Coordinator at New College (University of Toronto). Her dissertation investigated the factors that influence urban household food consumption and food wasting practices in Indonesia, and the ways in which food systems consideration can improve urban planning decision-making. She has published her work in the journals Local Environment, Built Environment, Indonesia,Journal of Agriculture, Food System and Community Development, and in the books Conversations in Food Studies (University of Manitoba Press), and Learning, Food and Sustainability (Palgrave McMillan). She is a co-editor with C. Reynolds, J. Lazell, and C. Spring of the upcoming Routledge Handbook on Food Waste. Beyond academic publications, she has also written for the Huffington Post, Policy Options, Alternatives Journal, and is frequently interviewed by media such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CBC, TVO The Agenda and more. She is a 2014 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Doctoral Scholar, a Joseph Armand Bombardier SSHRC CGS Doctoral Fellow, an International Development Research Centre Doctoral Award recipient, and a SSHRC Top 5 Storyteller finalist. She led a tri-country team (U.S, Mexico and Canada) on a Commission for Environmental Cooperation project to develop toolkits for youth engagement in food loss and food waste reduction.
Her current research projects are funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council New Frontiers, Trans-Atlantic Partnership, and Insight Grants. Past project funders include the Simon Fraser University Community Engagement Initiative Grant, Weston Foundation Seeding Food Innovation Grant, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation.
Tamara is an environmental planner and engagement specialist with over 20 years experience in food waste reduction and organics management program development, implementation, and assessment. Tamara is committed to an approach that effectively fosters both system and behaviour change to minimize food waste and build community. She works closely with public and private sector clients to provide technical assistance, system audits, behaviour change program development, technical trainings, and stakeholder engagement services. She has led recent food waste reduction projects including stakeholder engagement for the review of the National Zero Waste Council’s Food Waste Reduction Strategy, technical support for the cross-Canada launch of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, and the development of a Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste In North America Foundational Report for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Recycling Council of British Columbia.
With her extensive experience and connections in West Coast communities, Tamara is working on building partnerships with diverse collaborators so the Food System Lab’s work continues to be meaningful and relevant to the community.
Belinda is a Co-Founder of Food Systems Lab and an environmental engineer on a mission to create a sustainable and just food system. Building on her diverse experience in consulting, international development, and grassroots organizing, she uses a combination of participatory design and data-driven approaches to develop, test, and evaluate solutions to improve food system sustainability from farm to fork.
As a consultant, she has worked across Canada and the United States on a variety of projects, including launching food waste reduction and food scraps recycling programs, multi-city and multi-season food waste audits, developing food and organic waste models, and feasibility assessments for organic waste processing technologies. Her publications include the National Zero Waste Council’s How To Measure Food Waste: A Guide for Measuring Food Waste from Households in Canada and Commission of Environmental Co-operation’s Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste in North America Foundational Report.
With the Food Systems Lab, Belinda brings theory into practice, creatively turning new ideas that start as a rough sketch on the back of a napkin into implementable research projects with robust measurement and evaluation.