Retail food waste in Australia

January 28, 2021

Ask any expat or tourist in Australia and they’ll tell you what you already know: Our food culture is second-to-none! We’ve got some of the best cafes, restaurants and bakeries you’ll find anywhere in the world.

It’s amazing that we have such great food options everywhere we go in the country, but it easy to forget the cost of having so much good food—As the saying goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, and by the same token, where there’s food, there’s food waste.

In Australia, the retail, hospitality and food service sectors waste 556,000 tonnes of food annually. To picture how big a problem that is, that’s about the weight of 31,000 buses—This is a massive environmental, as well as, social problem. The environmental implications of food waste are seriously worrying because so much greenhouse gases are being produced by perfectly good food that ends up in landfill. Did you know that if food waste were a country, it’d be the third largest greenhouse gases emitter, coming in just behind The US and China.

In terms of the social implications of food waste, food insecurity has increased in Australia, with 2020 hitting many Australians hard and resulting in more people losing their jobs and livelihoods, searching for food relief on a weekly basis. We could feed everyone experiencing food insecurity with all of the perfectly good food that is thrown out of cafes and restaurants everyday. It’s unconscionable to be wasting good, edible food when people are going hungry.

What are the different types of food waste in the retail sector?

Types of food wasted in this sector are diverse and culprits can range from the big four supermarkets to your small local cafe. Examples of food waste include apples that have been thrown out at the shops because they’ve arrived slightly bruised and they don’t want them displayed, all the way to a loaf of bread that’s gone unsold at the end of the day at a bakery. That’s a lot of perfectly good food going into bins.

Where does this food waste go?

There are several destinations for food waste in Australia. In retail, hospitality and food service sectors the main destinations for food waste are: Composting/recycling, landfill, food rescue or animal feed.

Food that’s been composted, rescued or turned into animal feed are still a part of our food system, but unfortunately, most of food waste still ends up in landfill. For the retail sector, almost 50% gets sent to landfill. For the hospo and food service sector, nearly all of it gets sent to landfill.

To resolve this issue, food waste destinations need to change and we need to spread awareness about the importance of a food system that’s a closed loop—This is where our app comes in.

The bring Me Home app, enables individuals to rescue delicious meals at the end of the day (at an awesome discount!), which diverts food from the bis and into bellies! It’s an easy, cheap and delicious way for anyone to help tackle food waste in Australia, and as with all things, the more people that jump on board and start reducing their food waste, the bigger our collective impact will be!