24-25 Jul 2024

Do something about food waste

Jul 6, 2015


The National Waste Report pegs food waste at 20 per cent of all industrial/commercial waste, and the most recent report in 2013 states that over $8 billion of food waste ends up in landfills. Valuable waste seems like an oxymoron, but waste can be utilised as a resource. At this year’s Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo, a seminar on food recycling in commercial premises will shine the spotlight on making waste products work for you.

The practice of composting has extended to commerce, with companies like Closed Loop Recycling, offering zero-waste solutions including compost systems for the hospitality industry. The innovative idea has attracted the likes of world-famous chef Rene Redzepi of Noma fame. Redzepi had a first hand experience with the machine that turns food waste into compost, reducing its volume by 90 per cent, in 24 hours. The chef was sold on the idea and said “I’ve got to have this machine, This has to be at Noma.” – it must be a victory for food waste solutions like these when the most lauded chef in the world wants your innovation in his kitchen.

With around 60 food establishments in Australia with such compost systems, one wonders the impact of zero-waste solutions taking off in large-scale operations.

Another simple and investment-free approach to reducing food surplus and eventual wastage is for businesses such as restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets to donate surplus quality food to non-profit organisations like SecondBite. Supported by Coles, it has redistributed over 6.4 million kg of surplus fresh produce – equivalent to 13 million meals. That number may be impressive, but not when you think of how over eight billion of fresh produce still goes to waste, there’s much more that can be done. SecondBite CEO Elaine Montegriffo says: “Food suppliers and sellers hate to waste food, but many don’t understand that there are avenues and alternatives. One of the drivers for Coles when they decided they wanted a national partnership with a food rescue organisation was that their employees were getting very upset with all the food being wasted.”

There’s a certain grungy glamour in dumpster diving, with an underground trend growing amongst the middle class – this isn’t surprising as most food products tossed out are still well within their use-by dates and fit for consumption. These surplus products for very little, if no cost, could be picked up by organisations like SecondBite. If more food establishments could come round to zero-waste solutions like the above, we can truly be on our way to truly closing the loop on food waste.

Elaine added: “Food rescuing actually reduces cost, because you’re getting surplus produce picked up by us, and avoiding the landfill.”

SecondBite would like to term what they do as rescuing food that would otherwise be wasted or left to rot in tips before heading to the landfill, and preventing food from reaching landfills has a knock-on effect on air and waterways pollution – an all-round win for everyone.

SecondBite is the Charity Partner of the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo 2015 and AWRE proudly supports the initiative. Please contact SecondBite for food donations or for partnership opportunities by calling 1800 263 283 or going to www.secondbite.org/contactus

At AWRE 2015, seminars touching on food recycling in commercial premises and in the CBD will conducted alongside a WMAA-led program which will take a closer look at food waste and food rescue.

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