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Tips for reducing food waste, for consumers and businesses

REMONDIS Australia // 1 December 2020


In Australia we waste more than 30 per cent of the food we Purchase, costing the economy around $20 billion


25 per cent of water used in agriculture is used to grow food that is ultimately wasted


Education is a key catalyst in sustainability behavioural change


Reducing food waste

Roughly 67 million tonnes of waste was produced in Australia in 2016-2017, rising in recent years due to population growth.

With China’s increased restrictions on the importation and processing of paper, cardboard, plastics and metals, the waste industry is now having to innovate and improve their processes in order to handle increasing volumes of waste that now needs to be processed and re-purposed on Australian soil.

By helping educate the community on how to reduce, re-use and recycle, together we can direct our recycling efforts towards a more sustainable future.
Food and garden organic waste is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the waste industry but is also a product that is easily re-used and recycled. In 2016-17 around 6.7 million tonnes of organic waste was sent to landfill – including food waste, biosolids, green waste and timber.

Reduce, re-use, recycle

As a consumer, easy ways to reduce and re-use your food waste are:

  • Plan your meals and portion sizes and make a list of only the things you need (make sure you also check your pantry and fridge first). This not only helps you save time and money when in a supermarket, but also means you’re less likely to buy excess food you won’t eat
  • Try not to buy pre-packaged fruit and vegetables if loose stock is on offer. Again, this will reduce any excess packaging on your fresh produce, but also means you only buy what you need
  • Freeze any leftovers or any excess produce you may have and get creative with using them
  • Always try and take any leftovers home when eating out
  • Always check your food’s ‘Use By’ date and plan accordingly. Remember ‘Best Before’ dates simply mean this food is at its best during this time but can still be eaten after this date if it has been stored correctly
  • Start a worm farm to turn any leftovers into compost for the garden

When organic waste decomposes in landfills, it produces a gas which consists of about 55% methane. Methane is a type of greenhouse gas which is much more damaging than carbon dioxide (CO2). It's also foul-smelling and highly flammable.

In Australia we waste more than 30% of the food we purchase – this costs the economy around $20 billion each year and equates to Australian consumers throwing away around 3.1 million tonnes of food each year.

This is the equivalent to throwing out 300kg per person, or one in five bags of groceries. Overall food waste costs Australian households between $2,200 to $3,800 a year and accounts for more than five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Food waste also wastes other precious resources. Twenty five per cent of water used in agriculture is used to grow food that is ultimately wasted. Therefore, throwing away one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower.

Tips for businesses

  • Train your staff how to handle produce correctly so they reduce or minimise damage to fruit and vegetables
  • Offer ripe fruit or vegetables at a discount rather than throwing it away, or get inventive and turn any overripe food or food approaching expiry into limited availability special on your menu
  • Get in touch with food donation organisations such as Oz Harvest or Foodbank to see if any of your spare produce can be repurposed for those in need
  • Have a food organics recycling bin so that any leftovers get sent to a composting facility to be turned into a re-usable product

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