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How To Be Fearless: 2023 Reflections with Our CEO Bradley Crepeau

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“I’m most surprised this year by the power of resiliency. It is contagious.”

Not wasting food is one of the easiest and most powerful actions an individual can take to lower their carbon footprint. So, when entrepreneur Bradley Crepeau, founder of Ottawa-based Food Cycle Science, developed a countertop appliance that pulverizes and dehydrates 90 per cent of the fruits and vegetables we throw out, turning it into plant-based fertilizer, he thought he had a product consumers would love.

He and his sales team went on the road explaining the benefits of the FoodCycler: It would deal with food waste at the source. It would save energy costs associated with waste disposal. It would divert organic waste from landfills. And it would be really good for our warming planet by helping to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

According to the UN Food Waste Index, Canadian food waste, when it decomposes, produces 14 percent of this country’s total greenhouse-gas emissions.

That was 10 years ago, and the response was tepid at best.

“When people have been disposing of waste the same way, for decades, they are reluctant to change,” Crepeau said. “We have made it too convenient for people to put it at the curb and forget about it.”

Three years ago, Food Cycle Science switched tacks. Crepeau decided to focus instead on getting municipalities to subsidize the cost of putting FoodCyclers into homes, thereby giving consumers a user-friendly way to discard of food scraps and providing local governments with a cost-effective alternative to green bins, whose waste has to be hauled away to landfills.

In early 2023, Food Cycle Science had a breakthrough, signing Nelson, B.C., as their first large-scale municipal customer. Nelson city staff told the CBC that participants processed more than 30,000 litres of organic waste during a three-month period and estimated the appliance’s use could save 280 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year.

Word spread. Food Cycle Science now has more than 135 municipalities using the FoodCycler ECO 5, which retails for $799. The company – which employs 52 people, including 20 engineers – also has a smaller product, the ECO 3, coming out this year.

“As a company we are looking to be a thought leader in this space,“ Crepeau said.

“Food waste is a global issue. Backyard composters and worm bins are great. The city-run green bin recycling programs are helpful, too. But the reality is way too much food waste is still making it into landfills,” said Crepeau, who adds that 60 per cent of Canadian food waste is avoidable.

“We try to differentiate by being more convenient. However, we can make all the FoodCyclers we want but without behavioural change in society, we won’t be able to solve the global food waste problem.”

How I surprised myself in 2023: “Fostering a culture where quitting doesn’t exist. I’m most surprised this year by the power of resiliency. It is contagious.”

What keeps me level-headed:  “My friends and family. Hard times and failure are inevitable when trying to scale a business, so having a support system that helps you when you’re down, but also celebrates the wins is critical.”

How I recover from failure: “Spending time with our new son, Beckham, helps keep ‘failure’ in perspective. It helps you realize what is actually important at the end of the day. He’s also the motivation to get back up and try again.”