Asia Pacific

Australian government plans to halve $20bn food waste problem

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Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg pledges $1.37m for Food Innovation Australia, an agency aiming to reduce food waste by getting businesses to commit to the target by 2030

Food waste is fast becoming a major, global concern and Australia is the latest country to announce significant steps to address it. Australia wastes $20bn worth of food every year but its government has now unveiled plans to reduce that figure by half.

Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg has announced $1.37m of funding for Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), an agency focused on reducing food waste by working with businesses to commit to the target by 2030.”20% of everything we consume, we waste,” said Frydenberg told the press at the inaugral National Food Waste Summit in Melbourne on Monday 20 November. “This costs the Australian economy about $20bn a year and about four million tonnes of food ends up in landfill.”

700 million tonnes of CO2 emissions

According to Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, Australian families throw away 3.1 million tonnes of edible food every year — the weight of about 17,000 Boeing 747 jumbo jets — costing households up to $3,800 each. In addition, food waste in landfill harms the environment with the release of 700 million tonnes tonnes of carbon dioxide, said Frydenberg.”If food waste was a country, when it comes to producing carbon dioxide emissions, it would be the third-biggest in the world behind China and the United States,” he said.The Australian government will develop a National Food Waste Baseline to ensure its plans stay on track, according to Frydenberg.

Voluntary commitment programme

The Coalition Government also committed a further $370,000 through its National Environment Science Program for two research projects to support the strategy. Of this, $200,000 will support research to establish the National Food Waste Baseline and develop an approach for the measurement of progress against the 50% reduction target. The remaining $170,000 will identify the highest value return on investment opportunities in food waste for business, community organisations and governments.

By late 2018 FIAL will finalise its plans to halve Australia’s waste, with a voluntary commitment programme for businesses and industry to begin in early 2019.

Michael Jones