Food waste facts and ways to prevent it

Take inspiration from the Government’s Food Waste Strategy with these food waste reduction tips.

Updated

food being thrown away

Key steps to achieve food waste reduction

These food waste management tips will help you reduce food waste:

We all have a part to play in food waste reduction to help implement the Australian Government’s Food Waste Strategy, which seeks to halve our country’s food waste by 2030.

Not only do we save the planet when we reduce food waste, but we also save money. We can help the environment even more by learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle at home. but first let's look at the main food waste facts and best strategies to overcome this waste with good waste management.

Set up a compost pile or compost bin in your garden and use your leftovers and scraps to make the perfect soil for your garden.

What is food waste?

Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy has a broad definition of food waste that includes every step along the process. In terms of household food waste, it’s defined as both edible and inedible food that is thrown away. Our tips on ways to reduce food waste cover both these categories.

Why is food waste important? Top food waste facts

To get an understanding of why food waste management is so important, let’s look at a couple of shocking food waste facts:

  • A third of the food produced in the world is estimated to be wasted.
  • Food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions - approximately 8% of the total.
  • Australian households throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of edible food.
  • That is roughly the same as one fifth of the average household's food shopping.
  • All this food waste costs $2,200 to $3,800 on average per household.
  • In total, around 5 million tonnes of the food thrown out by Australians ends up in landfill. 
  • That means the contents of the average household bin is 35-40% food waste.
  • All this food waste could be drastically reduced with a few simple steps.

How to reduce food waste: 5 simple food waste solutions

If you’re wondering how to avoid the wastage of food, check out our 5 strategies to get started. These are all simple to implement food management techniques which could make a good difference to the amount of food, and money, that you save.

 

1. Store food the right way to reduce food waste

One of the most common reasons for food waste is the incorrect storage of food - by not storing food correctly it can spoil more quickly making it more likely that it'll be wasted.

  • Place food on the correct shelf of the fridge - meat should be kept on the bottom shelf to avoid contamination, fruit and vegetables go in the crisper.
  • Check the fridge temperature and ensure it is set at the right level to keep food fresh. This is usually between 0-4 degrees Celsius.
  • Keep potatoes, onions and garlic in dark, dry spots - not the fridge.
  • Store foods like bananas and tomatoes away from foods like apples, berries and peppers. They can cause each other to ripen more quickly.

 

2. Use imperfect produce rather than wasting it

As part of the Government’s Food Waste Strategy, a number of supermarkets and fruit shops offer fruit and veg in slightly unusual shapes and sizes for cheaper prices. Harris Farm Markets’ “Imperfect Picks” seasonal range, for example, has lots of misshapen vegs that are still super tasty - but how do they help reduce food waste?

  • These products help reduce the shocking statistic that 25% of farmers’ crops don’t leave the farm because they don’t look good enough. 
  • By buying imperfect food you could even make big savings on the cost of your food shopping.
  • Getting used to using foods that don't look perfect will help you avoid food waste at home - you won't be tempted to throw out the foods that look different. 

 

3. Avoid over-purchasing by shopping smart

The Government has outlined a number of places where food waste occurs and one area is over-purchasing food that is then thrown away. We’ve got a 3-step plan that shows you how to reduce food waste by shopping smart:

  • Make a meal plan at the beginning of the week. This should outline every meal you intend to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Make a shopping list using your meal plan so that you only buy the foods you need. Don't forget the essentials like bread and milk.
  • Stick to your shopping list and resist special offer impulse buys. Only buy the amount of food you need - don't be tempted by bulk buy incentives if you'd struggle to use all the food before it spoiled.

Check out our tips on how to spend less money on food for more smart shopping ideas.

 

4. Use veg scraps in helpful ways for unique food waste solutions

Most of us just bin our veg scraps but they can actually be used again to help reduce food waste.

  • Turn them into a delicious homemade stock by boiling them down in water.
  • Use them to help your garden grow by putting them into a compost pile - check your local council for discounted composting gear.

 

5. Learn how to store and cook leftovers

Having limited knowledge of how to safely repurpose and store leftovers is another reason why food waste occurs.

  • A lot of leftovers can be frozen for future use instead of going in the bin. Put them in a sealed container with a clear label so you know what they are and when they need to be eaten by. Most foods can be frozen for a few months.
  • Reheat leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day where possible - store them in the fridge overnight and make sure you reheat them safely before eating.
  • Another interesting food waste solution is to use leftovers to create new recipes. This is a great way to reduce food waste.

Now you know how to reduce food waste you can put these tips into action. You’ll reduce the amount of food waste that goes into landfill - and save some money. Together we can make a difference!

Originally published