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Melbourne is wasting 200 kg per person of food a year

Food waste is a problem in many ways. It’s expensive, with the average household spending over A$2,200 per year. And it threatens our food supply.

In a new report, our Foodprint Melbourne Project estimated the amount of food wasted by feeding Melbourne. Our research found that the amount of food wasted in Melbourne is over 900,000 tons per year. This is more than 200 kg for each person.

This amount is enough to feed over 2 million people a year*.

Food waste can occur at various stages. Foodprint Melbourne

Undermining sustainability

This waste food requires 180 gigalitres (113 liters) of water per year. It’s the equivalent of running your shower an additional 10 minutes per day.

The amount of food that is wasted in Australia also occupies 3.6 million acres of land, which is around 41 ha for every person or 20 times more than the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

This wasted food produces around 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. 60% is due to food waste that rots in landfills; the remainder is from the production of the food.

Unconsumed food not only contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This is a wasteful use of resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce.

Australia is a region with a scarcity of water that will become drier as climatic change occurs, and only 6 percent of Australia’s land can be used for farming.

High levels of food waste, with the destruction of natural resources that come along with it, add to the challenge of producing enough food to feed an ever-growing population.

Reduce food waste

You can reduce food waste in your home by a variety of methods. Making meal plans, distributing leftovers to friends and neighbors, checking your fridge before you go shopping, and storing foods correctly are all ways to reduce food waste.

The Cloud Freezer app will help you keep track of the contents of your fridge and freezer. Composting, such as worm farms, bins, or other methods of composting, can also be a great way to divert food from landfills.

We can reduce food waste in our own homes, but we also need to consider the larger picture. According to our research, more than 60% of food waste occurs before the food reaches your refrigerator or freezer.

The strict standards that define the size, shape, and color of the fresh fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets may mean that an important proportion of the crop will never leave the farm.

Farmers may not be able to afford to ship or pick imperfect produce because of low prices. Food is wasted due to pressure to fill supermarket shelves for aesthetic reasons, food losses, and storage issues.

Woolworth’s Odd Bunch is one of many initiatives that are aimed at reducing the problem. However, more must be done.

According to our research, if Melbourne’s food waste were reduced by half across the entire food supply chain, it could save 90 million liters each year, 1.8 million acres of land, and 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gasses.

Food waste must be reduced by half.

The new Sustainable Development Goals recognize the challenge food waste poses to sustainable food systems and set the goal to reduce global food waste generated by consumers and retailers by half by 2030.

The United States has set a target for reducing food waste by 50 percent before 2030. To tackle this problem, the government has created a partnership between stakeholders from across the food supply chain.

The UK government was a pioneer in tackling food waste. It launched the Love Food Hate Waste Program in 2007 to reduce food waste. In 2012, an evaluation showed that the amount of food and drinks wasted (that could have easily been consumed) had decreased by 21% over the five years after the program’s launch.

The majority of the reduction in food waste has come from household sources. The WRAP program now works with the food industry in order to reduce waste across other sectors. The state governments of Victoria and New South Wales have adopted the successful UK Love Food Hate Waste Program aimed at reducing food waste in households.

Australia is developing a national strategy to reduce food wastage – The Food Waste 2025 Strategy. This month, stakeholders from the entire food supply chain will meet to discuss ways to reduce food wastage.

Australia should set a goal to reduce food waste by half across the entire food supply chain in order to make Australia’s food systems more sustainable.

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Jane S. King

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