CASE STUDY: Gay Lea Foods

A holistic, integrated approach to optimize resource use at a Gay Lea Foods facility

Gay Lea Foods

“The multi-stakeholder collaborative nature of this Pilot Project was very attractive to us. The ability to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to have a 3rd party assessment of all aspects of our process operation – energy, water, wastewater, ingredients – made it an easy decision to participate.”

Zbigniew Ewertowski, Director of Corporate Engineering, Gay Lea Foods

Like other food and beverage processors, Gay Lea Foods operates in a business environment of fierce competition, intense price pressures, and complex regulatory concerns. Adding to this challenge are the rising utility costs for energy, water and wastewater management. There is a need to be more efficient in these areas to drive out costs, improve the bottom-line and comply with municipal sewer use by-laws.

There are many utility and municipal programs available to support Toronto’s food and beverage sector with implementing energy, water and resource efficiency and conservation practices.
However, because these incentive programs operate independently from one another, processors can become overwhelmed by the time required to investigate and prepare applications. In addition, since each of these programs have their own focus and eligibility criteria, multi-disciplinary opportunities that would be identified in a holistic approach can be missed.

This Pilot Project demonstrated the value of an aligned and collaborative approach where objectives of different stakeholders converged into shared goals. The outcomes created benefits not only for Gay Lea Foods, but also for the City of Toronto and the electrical, natural gas and water utilities.


  • Brought together the key stakeholders to collaborate on a Pilot Project to determine the benefits of an integrated approach to optimize resource use and improve the bottom-line and sustainability performance of a food processor.
  • Identified and aligned financial incentives and technical support offered by Toronto Hydro, Enbridge Gas Distribution and the City of Toronto to support an integrated assessment.
  • Qualified and retained external expertise to establish a detailed “holistic” baseline of current energy, resources and water usage, and to identify opportunities to reduce energy, water and resource consumption.


Gay Lea Opportunities

Identified Opportunities at Gay Lea Foods

  • The experience and lessons learned provides a template for a “collaborative model” that would better support the needs of the food and beverage sector in the City of Toronto.
  • The integrated assessment identified 11 separate opportunities to reduce energy and water consumption and recover lost product.
  • The opportunities represent more than $230,000 in annual savings with an aggregate simple payback of eight months. Of that total, $100,000 was directly the result of taking an integrated approach.
  • Gay Lea better recognized the inter-connections between energy, water and other resources. This approach optimized solutions, with the result being stronger business-case justification for the identified innovation opportunities.

Gay Lea Foods Case Study
[ Download Full Case Study ]