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What a Waste: Food Waste Management

The UN estimates that a third of all food in the world is wasted. The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy report that Australian consumers waste 3.1 million tonnes of edible food a year, costing the average Victorian household $2,136. When we throw out food, it becomes landfill. When it breaks down, it produces almost double its mass in methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. In the face of a global food crisis, we can reduce so we throw out less, reuse food by donating excess food, and recycle properly so food waste doesn’t end up in landfill.

Glenferrie's supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, are major sources of products with strict expiration dates. According to Woolworths, their still-edible dry foods are redistributed to Australia’s largest food relief organisation Foodbank, while expired bread and produce are redirected to local farmers for stock feed and composting. Similarly, Coles is partnered with SecondBite, and has provided over 50 million meals to disadvantaged Australians. Perhaps Australia will follow in the footsteps of France, who last year implemented a world-first ban on super- markets throwing away unsold food.

The most significant food waste crime committed by Australian supermarkets is the rejection of up to 40% of fruit and vegetables due to ‘supermodel standards’. To combat this immense waste, Woolworths’ popular ‘The Odd Bunch’ produce line has sold over 96,000 tonnes of perfectly edible, but imperfect-looking, fruit and vegetables which otherwise wouldn’t have even reached the shelves.

Glenferrie’s Belmore Meats employs a range of practices to avoid any wastage whatsoever. When a piece of meat hasn’t sold quickly, the butchery will: vacuum seal red meats, cook chicken to increase its shelf life by seven days, or use perfectly edible but visually unappealing meats to make sausages, mince, etc. If a piece of meat does reach the point of almost-expiration, it will be marked down to half-price to inspire the bargain-hunter’s dinner. Considering the meat production industry is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases, Belmore Meats’ virtually zero-waste not only avoids financial losses, but reduces their carbon footprint.

To combat the wastage of unsold food, Asian takeaway restaurant Alleyway Kitchen in Glenferrie Centre advertises their hot meals at the end of the day at a discount- ed price. Around the corner at Subway sandwiches, they waste no bread. A certain amount of bread is baked in the morning and, only when this supply dwindles, staff will bake more rolls to meet demand. Because of their fresh-baking practices, any rolls left over by the evening close can be sold first thing the next morning.

In Boroondara, almost half of all our general waste is food. Boroondara’s Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy 2017 aims to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill by up to 19,000 tonnes. If successful, it means that Hawthorn will be serviced by a food organics collection service in 4-5 years. In the meantime, the Council offers discounted at-home composting options, such as bokashi bins and worm-farms, which won’t just improve your garden but reduce your environmental footprint. Furthermore, to meet a rising interest in local produce and reducing food waste, the City of Boroondara has developed local community gardens and home-grown food-sharing programs which can be found on the council website.

With the biggest feasting season upon us, Sustainable Victoria’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ recommends a three-fold approach to reducing your food waste this Christmas: clever planning, using up what you have, and smart food storage. With the temptation of countless Christmas promotions and the threat of hard-to-please relatives, it’s important to make a meal plan with appropriate portions for the number of guests, stick to it, and store the leftovers to enjoy on Boxing Day.

This Christmas, let's enjoy what we have – no more, no less.

Homing Instinct encouraging a sustainable Christmas and sustainable gift ideas.

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