Wishing waste would go away

New research shows Australians are a nation of ‘wishcyclers’ as more than half of us (51%) admit to putting waste in a recycling bin even if we’re not sure it’s recyclable. Read more

Sodexo gets on board food waste wagon

Sodexo, a company that specialises in quality of life services, has pledged to purchase at least 75 tonnes of surplus food by August 2021, through Yume’s surplus food online marketplace, as part of its ongoing efforts to lead the charge in corporate sustainability.
Yume’s online marketplace allows suppliers and buyers to connect with each other to prevent high quality, edible food from going to waste.
Yume food purchases are made by a number of Sodexo’s mining villages sites across the country, including Cloudbreak, Degrussa and Karntama in Western Australia, Olympic Dam in South Australia and Tanami in Northern Territory.
Sodexo and Yume first partnered in mid-2018 and Sodexo was the first corporate buyer to make a Yume pledge for future food purchases. Since, Sodexo has purchased more than 115 tonnes of surplus produce through Yume.
“7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in Australia, of which 4.1 million tonnes is from the commercial food sector. Through the purchase of top-quality surplus food through Yume, Sodexo has become a leader in sustainable procurement and given hundreds of businesses a lifeline., said Katy Barfield, Founder & CEO, Yume.

Sodexo’s Tanami Village has purchased 8,123kg of surplus food through Sodexo’s supply chain.
Following a successful trial, Sodexo’s team at Tanami now purchases salmon, export quality pork, diced beef, chicken and more, ordering in bulk and building the products into their quarterly menus.
“We were surprised at how much food would normally have gone to waste. We now purchase almost a tonne of poultry every six to eight weeks that would have otherwise gone to waste. With Yume part of our main supply chain, we’re looking at how we can incorporate even more products as we review our menu each quarter,” said Tristan Allen, Tanami site manager, Sodexo Australia.

Sodexo’s mission to reduce waste extends across its operations in Australia.
The company recently announced it helped reduce the production of regular plastics by 156 tonnes and offset 1,122 tonnes of carbon, as part of its partnership with packaging provider BioPak.
Sodexo has also announced the deployment of its data-driven food waste prevention program, WasteWatch powered by Leanpath, at 140 food service locations across Asia-Pacific, including Australia, by January of 2021.
The WasteWatch program will enable sites to capture food waste data, identify opportunities to reduce waste and drive operational and behavioural changes.
“Collectively, corporate Australia still has a long way to go to achieve environmentally-conscious operations and supply chains. By partnering with providers like Yume, BioPak, and Leanpath we’re taking steps towards a more sustainable future. Our work with our sustainability partners serves as a reminder of the capacity of corporates to contribute to the fight against waste.” said Mark Chalmers, CFO & country president, Sodexo Australia.

More food, less waste for farmers

Today, on International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre has released new data on Australia’s food waste.

The data shows the figures for food loss on farms have decreased.  This new information reveals that while the numbers for fruit loss are up, the percentage of vegetables lost have come down. Broad acre crop loss has also decreased, due to less production in the drought.

These findings are part of the Growth Centre’s National Food Waste Feasibility Study (Feasibility Study). This phase of the Feasibility Study is collecting the most recent data to update the National Food Waste Baseline released by the Australian Government in 2019. This will enable identification of sector ‘hotspots’ with high waste profiles and direct focussed interventions to drive the biggest improvements.

“Having an accurate picture of where food waste is coming from and where it is going is critical. Knowing whether it is left in the paddock by farmers or thrown in the bin by households, is important in developing initiatives to reduce overall waste and capture nutritional value,” said Max Van Biene, head of strategy at Edge Environment.

As an independent organisation supporting the implementation of the Australian Government’s National Food Waste Strategy, the Growth Centre’s Feasibility Study has been taking a deep dive into the causes, nature, scale and impacts of food loss and waste in Australia.

The Feasibility Study was identified in the Growth Centre’s Roadmap for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030, as a critical first step in reducing Australia’s food waste.

Australia’s largest dedicated sustainability consultancy, Edge Environment, was appointed by the Growth Centre as the lead firm on this project, alongside WRAP, 3Keel and Lifecycles. This international consortium, with globally recognised experts, is testing Australia’s commitment to halve food waste by 2030 and the actions required to achieve this target.

“The National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study will provide the insights required to set an industry-led agenda to prioritise and focus efforts to maximise the  benefits of halving Australia’s food waste by 2030,” said Dr Mirjana Prica, managing director of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

Food and agribusiness stakeholders are encouraged to have their say on the preliminary Baseline findings by attending a free webinar on October 21 2020.

Sugarcane waste-based durable packaging is plastic-free and compostable

The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean could triple by 2040 as part of the estimated 1.3 billion tons predicted to choke our already strained ecosystem, killing marine life and polluting the land. A recent UK investigation found that microscopic, potentially dangerous plastic particles have become “part of the air we breathe”. But companies and governments can reduce plastic production in time, a new study indicates.

W-Cycle, an Israeli foodTech startup has developed SupraPulp, plastic-free packaging made of sugarcane waste that is compostable, safe, and yet durable enough to be used for greasy, wet, or hot food. Packaged food with SupraPulp can be frozen and heated with either an oven, convection oven, steam cooker or microwave.

SupraPulp is patented, field-tested, and an ideal replacement for plastic, aluminium, or foam containers. It is made from 100 per cent renewable sugarcane fibers, called bagasse, the dry, pulpy fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice.

SupraPulp is compostable, non-coated, toxin and metal free. The containers have unique characteristics compared to standard bagasse containers that make them the ideal alternative to plastic trays for food products, especially fresh, frozen, or prepared consumer packaged meals. While standard pulp products cannot sustain liquids and oils, SupraPulp containers are oil – and water-resistant and avoid any absorption or leakage. CPET plastic trays are typically used in for ready-meal packaging.

SupraPulp, just like CPET, is ideal for ready meals since it is suitable for freezer-to-oven/microwave convenience. Fresh meat, poultry & sea food are also commonly packed in plastic (PE, PET, Styrofoam) due to their juice runoff. SupraPulp is a great replacement as it will not absorb them, leak or soften. Following years of R&D efforts, W-Cycle’s new SupraPulp material is able to be frozen to -40°C and reheated to 270°C, inviting a comprehensive range of food applications. After use, the package can be disposed of as organic waste.

“Dispose SupraPulp packages the same way as you would your salad,” says Lior Itai, CEO and co-founder of W-Cycle. “This food-grade, compostable packaging is a one-to-one replacement for its plastic counterpart. There are other compostable solutions on the market, but SupraPulp has game-changing functionality consumers need when they want to heat, freeze, or microwave convenience food products. Plus, SupraPulp trays have a luxury look and feel compared to plastic, aluminum, or bioplastic containers.”


AIP webinar discusses role packaging has in minimising food waste

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is to discuss the important role that packaging plays in minimising food waste at up-coming APCO Webinar on 26 August

This webinar will be looking at the journey of food from farm to fork and the important role packaging plays in food waste prevention. Globally, one-third of all food produced for human consumption around the world goes to waste and here in Australia the government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year. As Australian businesses and communities look to phase-out single-use plastic packaging, and redesign their packaging for recoverability, food waste avoidance is another critical issue packaging designers must consider.

Topics for discussion include:

  • An update on the research and projects being delivered within the Fight Food Waste CRC – an organisation that brings together industry, research and the community to capitalise on Australia’s food waste opportunities.
  • Training, tools and resources for businesses working to reduce food waste through packaging
  • Save Food Packaging Design Guidelines
  • Award-winning Best Practice examples of Save Food Packaging Design

Nerida Kelton MAIP
Executive Director
Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)

Karli Verghese FAIP
Program Leader
Fight Food Waste CRC

Mark Barthel
Special Advisor Food Waste
Fight Food Waste CR

APCO releases August sustainability webinar topics

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has released the August schedule for its successful Weekly Community Webinar series. The series has proved popular during lockdown conditions, with over 3,000 attendees participating so far as the sustainable packaging community bands together to stay connected during a challenging time.

Topics for discussion in August will include the hot topic of reusable packaging in the COVID-19 world, the role of packaging in minimising food waste, a look into the work being delivered to drive greater industry demand for recycled content and a preview of APCO’s new National Consumer Education Campaign.

Speakers for August’s webinars include Liz Kasell, Founder of RED Group, Jamie Forsyth, Founder and CEO, ReturnR, Jean Bailliard, General Manager, TerraCycle Australia and New Zealand, and Brent Vrdoljak, Senior Brand Manager, Natures Organics.

“I want to say thank you to the sustainable packaging community, particularly our guest speakers, for helping to make the series such a success. Shifting our events program online-only certainly wasn’t part of our plans for 2020, but the way our community has joined together to keep our crucial work on track in difficult circumstances has been extremely heartening and truly underscores the determination we all share to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets.” Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO, said.

When: 5th August, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Reusable packaging in the COVID-19 world   

Join the APCO team for our weekly Community Webinars to explore the sustainability topics that matter most to our network.

This week we are looking at reusable packaging – one the most exciting areas of opportunity for packaging sustainability. In FY21, APCO will be delivering several projects to address reuse, including a Reuse Roadmap and collaborative pilot projects to implement reuse in targeted supply chains. Many APCO Members are also pioneering the way with scalable reusable packaging models in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) space.

Speakers joining us include Jamie Forsyth, Founder and CEO, ReturnR, Jean Bailliard, General Manager, TerraCycle Australia and New Zealand, and Brent Vrdoljak, Senior Brand Manager, Natures Organics.

Topics for discussion include:

  • What implication will COVID-19 hygiene precautions have for the reuse movement and how can we continue to deliver progress in this space?
  • Insights from leading reusable packaging brands, programs and community education organisations.
  • Challenges and opportunities for organisations looking to implement reuse models into their operations.
  • Opportunities to get involved in APCO’s FY21 Priority Projects addressing reuse.

When: 12th August, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Preview of APCO’s new National Consumer Education Campaign  

Join the APCO team for our weekly Community Webinars to explore the sustainability topics that matter most to our network.

This week we are introducing APCO’s new National Consumer Education Campaign. The new campaign will run from July 2020 – July 2022, with the objective of increasing the general public’s participation in sustainable and responsible behaviours in relation to packaging.

Join APCO’s communications manager Alice Johnson for an update on the campaign including:

  • An overview of the key educational themes being addressed in the campaign – including recycled content, reusable packaging and correct recycling behaviours.
  • An overview of the strategic approach to the campaign – including audiences, channels and activities.
  • The range of opportunities for all organisations to take part.

When: 19th August, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Driving demand for recycled content   

Join the APCO team for our weekly Community Webinars to explore the sustainability topics that matter most to our network.

This week we are covering the work being delivered to drive greater industry demand and uptake of recycled content. It’s a critical area of focus for APCO and our Members in FY21 – with projects underway to address recycled content traceability, labelling and procurement.

Join Meredith Epp, APCO’s Industry Partnership Manager and Liz Kasell, Founder of RED Group, for a look at two new projects that will be launching soon in this space.

Topics for discussion include:

  • Case studies from successful recycled content approaches being rolled out internationally.
  • An overview of APCO’s new Pledge Project.
  • An overview of RED Group’s new TRaCE circular economy program and how industry can support the 2025 recycling targets through direct involvement in circular outcomes.

When: 26th August, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
The role of packaging in minimising food waste  

Join the APCO team for our weekly Community Webinars to explore the sustainability topics that matter most to our network.

This week we are looking at the journey of food from farm to fork – and the important role packaging plays in food waste prevention. Globally, one-third of all food produced for human consumption around the world goes to waste and here in Australia the government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year. As Australian businesses and communities look to phase-out single-use plastic packaging, and redesign their packaging to improve recoverability, food waste avoidance is another critical issue packaging designers must consider.

Topics for discussion include:

  • An update on the research and projects being delivered within the Fight Food Waste CRC – an organisation that brings together industry, research and the community to capitalise on Australia’s food waste opportunities.
  • Training, tools and resources for businesses working to reduce food waste through packaging.

    Speakers TBC.

Yume and SUEZ strategic partnership addressing food waste

A partnership to tackle commercial food waste in Australia is kicking some major goals by  selling high quality surplus food that might have otherwise gone to waste.

Yume, the leading online marketplace for high quality surplus food, teamed up with waste and recycling leader SUEZ, to offer food manufacturers an option to get a financial return on surplus products.

Katy Barfield, founder of Yume said that they were seeing powerful results using their technology to offer an innovative market for surplus food.

“Several multinational companies who are also SUEZ customers have now listed high quality surplus food on Yume and we are working with them to ensure those products find a new avenue to market and are consumed as intended. These companies join our network of over 500 food manufacturers, wholesalers and importers that list and sell quality stock through our online marketplace,” said Barfield.

The partnership with SUEZ has resulted in the sale of 450,285 kilograms of surplus food which has returned almost $700,000 to these businesses and we are expecting this number to grow as the market adjusts to the coronavirus impact.

These results add significantly to Yume’s growing impact. To date Yume has provided a new route to market for close to two million kgs of food returning over $6,000,000 to Australian businesses and farmers.

“One of the companies, Patties Foods, joined the war on waste and listed a surplus consignment of caramel slices. Yume identified a new avenue to market their caramel slices and sold the product to independent retailers and caterers all around Australia, getting them a great return.

“Importantly, our work together is having a positive impact on the planet. The partnership has saved water and carbon dioxide equivalent to saving the water of 519,560 showers and taking 195 cars off the road for a year and this is just the beginning,” Barfield added.

Justin Frank, chief customer officer at SUEZ Australia and New Zealand, said that the company is committed to working with customers to ensure as much waste as possible is recovered, recycled and treated.

“The benefits of the partnership assist SUEZ’s customers in reducing waste and achieving greater sustainability. Our partnership with Yume aligns with SUEZ’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – SDG 12 – by promoting responsible production and consumption” he said.

Barfield said that Yume is focused on delivering a commercial solution at the top of the food waste hierarchy: avoiding waste and reusing food wherever possible.

“This is an innovative partnership in the fight against commercial food waste, we are looking to prevent 4.1 million tonnes of surplus food from going to waste in Australia every year.

“In 2016-17, a massive 55 per cent of food waste was associated with Primary Production, Manufacturing and Wholesale sectors. 


“This food, produced by Australian farmers and manufacturers, is wasted even before it reaches supermarkets, restaurants or homes,” she said.

Reviving reusable coffee cups for plastic-free July

Global experts unite to confirm reusable cups and containers are safe for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 83 million disposable coffee cups are used every month in Australia – a statistic Responsible Cafes is hoping hospitality venues can unite to help curb the rest of this month for Plastic Free July , in the wake of the signed statement by 130+ global experts confirming reusable cups and containers are safe for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 130 scientists from around the world, including e pidemiologists, virologists, biologists, chemists and doctors, have issued a signed statement to confirm that reusable containers and cups can be used safely with basic hygiene measures, based on the best available science and guidance from public health professionals, noting ‘s ingle-use plastic is not inherently safer than reusables, and causes additional public health concerns once it is discarded’.

Joanna Horsley, general manager of Responsible Cafes , said, “Most single-use cups take enormous amounts of resources to create, used for a few minutes, and then enter landfill, to emit harmful greenhouse gases. We are seeing more cafes signing up with us to confirm they are accepting reusable cups again, and we’re hoping to see awareness grow about the advice from global experts.”

Contact-free coffee for reusable cups: Best practise use of reusable cups and containers includes a contact-free system, as advised by global health experts. Responsible Cafes have created the ‘contactless coffee’ method, which allows for zero contact of a barista with a customer’s reusable cup .

Three steps to contactless coffee:
1. Sit reusable cup on porcelain saucer or napkin on a tray.
2. Make coffee in a porcelain ‘drink-in’ cup.
3. Transfer into the reusable cup without touching and hand back to customer via the plate.

The method is championed by author and activist Sarah Wilson , who is a passionate advocate for getting reusables back on the table as soon as possible .

Compostable cups are no environmental ‘silver bullet’
Compostable cups are thought to be a more environmentally choice than traditional plastic-lined options – but independently conducted research has found they are actually the worst when it comes to environmental impact.

“The overwhelming majority of single-use cups cannot be recycled, even the ones marked ‘compostable’, because of their insulative lining. Most need to be industrially composted and so instead, end up in landfill creating as much harm as plastic-lined cups.

“With less than 1 in 5 councils offering a dedicated waste stream for 1 organic waste, and limited businesses offering drop-off services for industrial composting, compostable cups and lids should be disposed of in landfill bins. They are not recyclable and can contaminate recycling streams, which can mean everything surrounding that cup will also need to go to landfill.”

“These can be unintended consequences for well-meaning cafes and their customers, so the best thing you can do as a business is establish clear signage in your venue of how to
dispose of single-use cups and other waste depending on the type you use,” said Horsley.

Social media campaign launched to fight food waste

Australians who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 are doing it tough. The bills keep coming in and the family still needs to be fed. Yet the average Australian family continues to waste around $3,000 per year on food that isn’t being eaten, often due to simple lack of awareness.

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will kick off a new social media campaign to provide Australians with much needed messages, tips and tricks on how to save money by reducing their food waste.

John Webster, chair of the Fight Food Waste CRC said that it is more important than ever to reduce food waste and through this social media campaign, we’ll be reaching as many people as we can over the next three months to help them with ideas to make the most of the food they buy.

“We want everyone to know that this is an important issue, that here in Australia there are 7.3 million tonnes of food wasted each year. That is enough to fill semi-trailers that would stretch from Perth to Sydney.

“But first and foremost, the campaign is about putting money back in the pockets of those that are doing it tough and through this campaign, we want them to know it’s easy as to fight food waste.

“Our fantastic participants here at the CRC have already developed many resources to help everyone, so we’ve brought them together in a new content hub so you can find what you need no matter where you are around the country.

“You could join the ‘loving a list’ challenge from Sustainability Victoria, or find resources from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, both are on our content hub.

“The ACT Government will shortly be launching a food waste campaign and the South Australian Government provides advice to householders on waste and recycling through the Which Bin campaign, and East Waste have the Why waste it? campaign to help get food waste out of landfill.

“We’ve also have easy recipes from the UK’s Love Food Hate Waste program, as well as Food Saver tips from Woolworths and storage ideas from our food charity partners.

“Our national survey late last year of over 5,000 Australian households told us that 76 per cent of the population were motivated to reduce food waste, yet there are still many concerns and confusion around food safety and date labels, so we’ve made sure to include information about that so that we can all be confident in our decisions to provide the best food for our families.”

The Hon Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, said that there are enormous opportunities to reduce food waste for Australia and this initiative is a terrific example of how we can make it real for Aussie households.

“This campaign draws on industry-led research collaboration to make a real difference for Australians at a time when many have been struggling through the COVID-19 crisis.

“It also builds on the Morrison Government’s commitment to a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity, which will create 10,000 jobs over the next decade and divert 10 million tonnes of waste from landfill into the making of useful products.”

The ‘It’s easy as’ to fight food waste campaign will launch on Facebook and Instagram on 13 July 2020 on the Fight Food Waste Australia pages on both Facebook and Instagram, and the new content hub will be at www.fightfoodwastecrc.com.au/itseasyas

One billion pieces of plastic saved from landfill

Coles has taken a step towards its goal of becoming Australia’s most sustainable supermarket after diverting more than 1 billion pieces of soft plastics from landfill.
Since 2011, Coles has worked with sustainability partner REDcycle to recycle plastic bags and soft plastic packaging such as biscuit packets, lolly bags, frozen food bags and bread, rice and pasta bags which cannot be recycled through most kerbside recycling services. 
With the program now collecting an average of 121 tonnes – or 30 million pieces of plastic every month – customers returned the one billionth piece of plastic to the REDcycle bins at Coles in June.
The milestone coincides with Coles’ first Sustainability Week as a publicly-owned company and aligns with its strategic objective to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket.
Liz Kasell, founder of Red Group and the REDcycle program, congratulated Coles and its customers for reaching the incredible milestone. 
“For nearly ten years Coles has supported the REDcycle program, and thanks to the participation of their enthusiastic customers, they have now diverted more than a billion pieces of soft plastics from landfill,” Liz said. 
In 2018, Coles became the first national supermarket retailer to have REDcycle bins in every store for customers to donate soft plastics, which are transformed by manufacturers such as Replas into a range of recycled products including outdoor furniture for community groups.
To support its recycling initiatives, REDcycle received a $430,000 grant from the Coles Nurture Fund to increase the amount of soft plastic it collects for recycling. The funds, which it received this year, allowed the company to purchase new processing technology and three new collection vehicles.

Coles’ soft plastics collected by REDcycle are also recycled into an asphalt additive for roads by Melbourne manufacturer Close the Loop and into garden edging by Albury business Plastic Forests.
This month, Coles supported another recycling solution for soft plastics by providing a $300,000 grant from the Coles Nurture Fund to Plastic Forests to manufacture steel-reinforced plastic posts which can be used for fencing by farmers including those affected by bushfires.
Coles chief property and export officer Thinus Keeve, who leads Coles’ sustainability strategy, congratulated customers on their role in helping to reach the milestone. 
“Our customers have told us recycling is important to them and Coles is proud to support initiatives which help close the loop on recycling and divert waste from landfill,” he said.
“One billion pieces of soft plastics recycled via Coles and REDcycle is a fantastic achievement by our customers and team members. It’s also an important step in helping to drive generational sustainability in Australia.”    
Many of Coles’ sustainability initiatives are focused on waste reduction, including through partnerships with food rescue organisations SecondBite and Foodbank to collect and distribute edible, unsold food to Australians in need. 
Last month, SecondBite reported nine out of 10 of their food relief charity partners surveyed across Australia had been impacted by COVID-19 and more than 80% have witnessed an increase in demand for food relief.
To date, Coles has donated the equivalent of 146 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank, which partner with local community groups to deliver nutritious meals to vulnerable Australians facing hardship. 
Coles further reduces the volume of food waste sent to landfill by donating fruit, vegetables and bakery products that are no longer suitable to eat to livestock farmers and animal shelters, with more than thirteen million kilograms donated to farmers in FY19. 
As part of Sustainability Week, Coles supermarkets are now reaching out to local farmers and customers to expand this program. Customers who may have a use for the produce as livestock feed are encouraged to visit their local Coles supermarket and speak to the store manager. 
Coles is also working with bakery supplier Goodman Fielder on an initiative to recycle surplus Coles Brand bread that cannot be used by our food charity partners by processing into breadcrumbs and bread meal, an ingredient in pet foods such as dog biscuits.
Following a successful pilot earlier this year, the program is now being rolled out to over 200 stores, to further support repurposing unsold Coles Brand bread away from was

Is Australia on track to halve food waste by 2030?

Each year, over five million tonnes of food in Australia ends up in landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In 2017, the Australian Government committed to halve this level of food waste by the year 2030. Today, a key destination in that journey has been reached.

As an independent organisation supporting the implementation of this national commitment, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has now commenced its $400k National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study.

Bringing together an international consortium of individuals and organisations with globally recognised expertise, FIAL’s Feasibility Study will test whether this commitment to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030 is indeed possible and what actions will increase the likelihood of achieving this target.

Australia’s largest dedicated sustainability consultancy, Edge Environment, has been appointed by FIAL as the lead consultancy alongside WRAP, 3Keel and Lifecycles.

“FIAL has a demonstrated track record in building collaborations across sectors, supply chains and industry groups to tackle food waste. Edge Environment is thrilled to be a part of the consortium that will see the full suite of required skills, and market-specific expertise to address these challenging feasibility questions,” said Max Van Bien, head of strategy at Edge Environment.

The Feasibility Study will fill data gaps; increase understanding around the environmental impacts of food waste in production, consumption and waste management; identify food waste ‘hotspots’ across the value chain and the solutions for their reduction; develop a number of scenarios under which the target could be achieved and the costed delivery trajectories of these; and make recommendations on which delivery trajectories and initiatives will most likely see the target achieved.

“Commencing the National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study is a positive step towards Australia’s goal of halving the amount of food either lost or wasted across the food value chain by 2030 – this is undoubtedly an ambitious goal and how to achieve this needs to be adequately understood,” said Dr Mirjana Prica, FIAL managing director.

The Feasibility Study was identified in FIAL’s Roadmp for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030 released earlier this year, as a crucial first step in reducing Australia’s food waste.

Over the past two years, FIAL has been working closely with multiple stakeholders to identify the steps required to make the food waste reduction target a reality.

These stakeholders include food rescue and relief organisations, agri-food industry peak bodies, the Fight Food Waste CRC, the National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee, the States and Territory Government Reference Group, and various national and international food waste experts.

August Special Feature for Food & Beverage Industry News – Waste Management

Food waste is a huge issue in Australia, with just over 7.3 million tonnes generated in Australia alone. Primary industry contributes more than 30 per cent to that figure, and with both food and packaging waste targets being set, now is the time to act if you are provider of products and services to this market. A lot of food and beverage manufacturers and processors don’t know where to start – this is your opportunity to tell them.

If you are a company that specialises in food and packaging waste management, the August Issue of Food & Beverage Industry News is an excellent platform to get your message across.

For sales please contact Luke Ronca on: M: 0402 718 081
E: luke.ronca@primecreative.com.au

Cold chain food waste costing billions

A report on the causes of food waste in Australia has attributed $3.8 billion in wasted food to “breaks and deficiencies in the cold food chain.”

The Expert Group, a local consultancy said that this is the first-time dollar losses linked to cold chain practices in Austria have been calculated.

The report titled Study of Waste in the Cold Food Chain and Opportunities for Improvement was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and by the trade group Refrigerants Australia.

The report’s main finding is that “conservative estimates put the cost of food waste within the cold food chain at $3.8 billion at farm gate values.”

Specific losses
In specific product categories, Australia loses 25 per cent (1,930,000 metric tons) of its annual fruit and vegetable production, 3.5 per cent of meat (155,000 metric tons) and seafood (8,500 metric tons) production, as well as 1 per cent (90,000 metric tons) of annual dairy production value, the report said.

The report also estimated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from food waste attributed to sub-par refrigeration technology, practices and processes at 7.0Mt (million metric tons) of CO2e in 2018, which is about 1.3 per cent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

This is equivalent to more than 35 per cent of the total emissions (direct and indirect) from operating the cold food chain in the same year (18.9Mt CO2e), the report said.
The study identified practices that would cost-effectively reduce perishable food waste, including better food handling, such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer, more accurate measurement of food temperatures, and better cohesion and monitoring at all steps in the cold chain.

“Food damage is also more likely to occur in the transport and handling of refrigerated product than at stationary points in the cold food chain,” the report said.

In addition, losses could be better predicted, avoided, or reduced by improved ‘chain of custody’ documentation “involving a mix of better practices and the use of rapidly emerging monitoring and reporting technologies.”

Woolworths further reduces plastic packaging

Even during the  COVID-19, 70 per cent of Australians are continuing to rank taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices as important to them, according to research revealed by Woolworths Group for World Environment Day.

Woolworths has introduced a number of initiatives to further reduce plastic across a range of fruit and vegetables, including bananas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccolini, sweet potatoes and organic apples.

By moving out of plastic clamshell and into adhesive tape for bananas, replacing rigid plastic trays with pulp fibre on tomatoes, moving to a paper tag on broccolini and reducing plastic film by 30 per cent in weight on carrots and potatoes, Woolworths has removed  237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the past year.

The tray Woolworths uses for its sweet potatoes and organic apples is now made of recycled cardboard, rather than plastic.

Woolworths has also commenced a trial of where it will switch plastic packaging in its Fresh Food Kids range of apples, pears and bananas to easy-to-recycle cardboard boxes.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said; “Something that was very surprising during COVID was the continued relevance of the environment, with 70 per cent of Australians saying that taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices remained important to them, even at the height of the crisis.

“While we’ve made pleasing progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know there is still much more to be done to meet our customers and our own aspirations.” said Banducci.

Since Woolworths removed single-use plastic bags in 2018, more than 6 billion bags have been taken out of circulation. Earlier this week, W oolworths also started to offer paper shopping bags, made out of 70 per cent  recycled paper, for customers to purchase to carry their shopping home in.

In the past year, approx 10,600 shopping trolleys worth of soft plastics have been recycled through its in-store RedCycle program. Woolworths also removed a total of 890 tonnes of plastic from its fruit, vegetables and bakery ranges over the past two years.

This means that all Woolworths stores now have food waste diversion partners in place and in the last year alone, the supermarket has diverted over 33,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill to our food relief partners or donated to farmers as feed stock.

New cold chain study reveals cost of wasted food

A new government and industry-sponsored study has revealed that food waste attributable to failures in the cold food chain costs the Australian economy nearly $4 billion at farm gate values and causes annual greenhouse gas emissions roughly equivalent to all of the cars in Queensland.

The study, Australia’s first in-depth examination of the cost of food waste because of deficiencies in the cold food chain was carried out by the Melbourne-based Expert Group, for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and Refrigerants Australia.

The country’s peak cold food chain advocacy body, the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) has labelled the report a wake-up call, demanding an urgent response by governments and businesses.

AFCCC chairman, Mark Mitchell, said the study highlighted the shocking abuse of temperature control and food handling processes in refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.

“It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten,” said Mitchell.

‘This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion. Meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million,’ he added.

The Australian government has committed to reducing food waste by half by 2030 to alleviate hunger, reduce greenhouse emissions and water usage and increase the efficiency of the economy. But Mitchell warned that this goal would never be reached unless there were substantial improvements in the way chilled food made its way from farm or production facility to the consumer.

Field studies by the AFCCC have highlighted critical shortcomings in the cold chain, and it has embarked on an educational campaign to try to improve standards, even down to the basics of temperature measurement with properly calibrated thermometers, and how to pack food pallets in a refrigerated space.

“We need to work cooperatively across industry and government to improve cold chain efficiency,” Mitchell added. “Most of the cold food chain’s problems are human-induced. Technologies and processes already exist that would dramatically cut food losses, but nothing can be achieved while food manufacturers and distribution channels operate in isolation and secrecy. They are responsible for a cold risk chain, rather than a cold food chain.”

For the first time, the new study balances the bad news with a range of practices that would cost-effectively reduce perishable food waste. These include simple, but logical food handling processes, such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer, more accurate measurement of food temperatures, and far more transparent monitoring of food in transit, so that failures could be quickly identified and solved.

“An Australian Cold Food Code could be a game-changer for food producers and consumers. It is all very well to implore cold storage facilities, trucking companies and supermarkets to redouble their efforts to reduce food waste, but they need the support and guidance of an updated and practical code, combined with an education campaign for cold chain practitioners. The AFCCC is working on this, in cooperation with the many Australian food and transport groups who share our concerns,” said Mitchell.

Maximum taste, minimum waste as Australia takes home global award

Poultry brand ‘The Bare Bird’ together with Sealed Air’s CRYOVAC brand ‘Darfresh on Tray’ packaging received the “Packaging that Saves Food” – gold star award from the 2020 WorldStar packaging awards, given annually by the World Packaging Organisation. As Australia addresses food waste challenges to meet the National Food Waste Strategy 2030 targets, what’s there to learn from companies that have gotten it right?

There’s a reason the best of the best take home shiny gold trophies. It’s because from farm to plate, the entire product is designed with sustainability in mind. While industries shift to drive a circular plastics economy, food waste remains a challenge for all. Each year, it is estimated Australian’s generate almost 300 kilograms of food waste per person.

Growing from strength to strength, ‘The Bare Bird’ put another feather in its cap taking home the gold international World Star award for “Packaging that Saves Food”. The 100 per cent antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed, free range chicken offers consumers a healthy chicken choice and its pack, CRYOVAC brand Darfresh on Tray manufactured by Sealed Air  offers consumers extended freshness.

“Reducing waste, driving sustainability and being resource savvy isn’t a new thing, it has been a central focus of our family-owned business since inception,” said John Hazeldene, director of Hazeldene’s Chicken Farms, which supplies chicken sold under the The Bare Bird name. “We’re delighted for The Bare Bird brand to be acknowledged on a global scale.”

Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm is a poultry producer and processor located near Bendigo, in central Victoria and has been part of the industry for more than 60 years.

While poultry is less resource intensive than other proteins, it still requires significant volume of water.

“We have invested heavily in water saving and water recycling programs across our facility and achieve best-in-class water usage rates per bird for poultry,” said Hazeldene. “It’s great that packaging solutions that extend shelf life also serve to protect resources like water from going to waste.”

Beyond reducing food waste, the CRYOVAC brand Darfresh on Tray packaging system  is a zero-scrap packaging platform, which eliminates plastic processing scrap by 40 per cent. For a typical mid-sized processor producing 30,000 packs per week, this would avoid 3,070 kg being sent to landfill each year.

“The zero-waste Darfresh on Tray system is a great solution that aligns with our environmental goals,” said Hazeldene.

Achieving a 25 per cent improvement in shelf life has been a  win not only for The Bare Bird but also retailers and consumers.

Growth in production and demand for free range chicken meat has been particularly strong over the past five years (approximately 15 per cent of the total market) and this trend is expected to continue (according to AgriFutures Australia), so reducing resource waste is important for a more sustainable and efficient end to end supply chain. Longer shelf life enables wider product distribution and better market access. This year, Hazeldene’s is looking to take The Bare Bird to international markets.

With food waste having an impact on retailer’s bottom line, shelf life now factors more prominently into retailers’ product and purchasing decisions. As with retailers, food waste is also an important concern and purchase consideration for consumers, who contribute to more than half of our nation’s food waste problem.

“Around the world we’re working to be better than we were yesterday, and in times as extreme as this pandemic, the focus on bettering community health ranks high,” said Alan Adams, Sealed Air’s regional sustainability director. “Failures in our food supply chain will compromise food safety and that also means recalls, compromised confidence in our food supply chain and compromised community health. Packaging’s ability to enable food safety and reduce waste makes it an everyday super hero. It’s an essential material and consumers would benefit in knowing this.

“Consumers are the biggest contributors to our nation’s food waste, so with focused activities around consumer behaviors, we can collectively make a difference and we know education is the hook.

“With concerted efforts in these areas, together with our National Food Waste Strategy to halve food waste by 2030, a less wasteful supply chain is a requirement. It’s a time to undo waste and the beauty is we can all contribute to making a difference. Through education and a willingness to change often lazy, wasteful food habits, reducing the aforementioned 300kg per capita (annual) contribution to food waste should be front of mind for every single Australian. That’s how we’ll reduce waste and leave our world better than we found it.”

Four ways to less waste

It starts by connecting with your audience and sharing a common goal
COVID-19 has shown what’s possible when communities work together for a common goal. On pack, in-store and social media platforms can make a huge impact. How many of your consumers are aware of food waste and its impact on global warming? Teaching consumers is  important and in doing so, not only are you helping consumers learn more about avoiding food waste, but also increasing brand awareness for your retail product. Callouts such as “sealed for freshness” is a good  example currently witnessed across some retail channels but we need more.

Avoid confusion with easy to understand on pack dates
Through a better understanding of when food is actually no longer safe to eat, as opposed to its ‘packed on’ dates, consumers are likely to make  better food choices rather than disposing it prematurely. There are many examples of packaging solutions where it’s hard for consumers to even find these dates. For packaging providers and retailers, a quick fix such as more prominent date placement can enable better food management and The Bare Bird is a great example we can learn from.

Keep it chilled
The importance of temperature cannot be discounted. It plays a major role in food safety and freshness. Clear guidelines on how to store and freeze products will help consumers with efficient meal planning all while diverting less waste to the kitchen bin. Solutions like CRYOVAC brand Darfresh vacuum skin packaging are convenient freezer-ready options, but how many consumers know this if you’re not telling them?

Portion perfect
Portioned packs provide for accurate faster and less wasteful meals. They are ideal for households that prefer convenience, as well as the new generation of home cooks who have appeared in the COVID-19 crisis.





Thinking outside the packaging box

Almost 65,000 commercial foodservice outlets including bars, cafes and restaurants have been forced to pivot over the last six weeks due to the Australian Government-ordered COVID-19 shutdowns. Those that have remained open, or are beginning to re-open, are offering customers restaurant-quality eats to takeaway, or have delivered to their door. Whilst businesses have completely transformed their business model overnight, customers are enjoying their favourites in a takeaway format and the boom in food delivery is continuing to increase as new research shows food delivery spending 213 per cent above normal in the week of April 27-May 4.

With the dramatic transformation for businesses, it has never been more critical for foodservice businesses to choose the right packaging.  The packaging industry is playing a vital role in offering hygienic low-touch food grade solutions to protect food ready for consumption.

One of Australia’s food packaging experts, Marinucci, is a leader in food packaging innovation and understands how important packaging is for a foodservice business. It is currently assisting businesses whose supply chain has been disrupted, as well as those that have turned to take-away and food delivery to remain open.

With the increased awareness of health and hygiene and the rise in home ‘contactless’ delivery services, pick-up and drive-thru, customers will begin to favour the relative safety and security offered by good packaging. David Marinucci, CEO, Marinucci explains, “Packaging plays a vital role in ensuring food is properly protected in the journey from kitchen to consumer. Should the packaging be tamper-evident? Can items be pre-packed for customers to walk-in and grab them? How can a foodservice operator ensure the dishes arrive safely to a customer? Once the food is at the customer’s home, does it need to be microwaved, reheated, frozen or kept airtight? These are the types of questions a chef or café owner needs to answer as they make their packaging decisions, as they can greatly affect the freshness of the food, and customer experience.

“In the last few months, we have seen the foodservice industry pivot into a takeaway sector. Chefs and café owners need to think about packaging and how it can assist their business and become part of their offering. It’s not just about protecting the freshness, temperature of the food and minimising food waste.  It is also about providing packaging that is fit for purpose and can easily be recycled,” said Marinucci.

“We understand that the right packaging solution can be critical to the future of a foodservice business, so we are helping customers to manage their cashflow by offering no minimum order value, $10 delivery charge in metropolitan areas and same day dispatch for ordering online.  Like us, many of our customers have an obsession with food so we know how important it is that as an industry, we all help each other get through this,” said Marinucci.

As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, the focus will be on assisting those heavily impacted get back to business and operating successfully again. Research released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), shows that 84 per cent of accommodation and food service businesses expect their businesses will be affected in the next two months. For venues that are re-opening, there is going to be an emphasis on sanitation processes, and packaging will play a part in this. An example of this is smaller venues, that don’t have commercial dishwashers with sanitising options above 80 degrees to ensure hygiene, will rely on good quality environmentally conscious packaging.

“Whilst this is an extremely challenging time for the foodservice industry, looking at the future after the COVID-19 crisis, I believe we will see restaurants and cafes continue to offer home delivery and pick-up options. Consumers are enjoying the convenience and speed of delivery and those businesses with healthy, high quality, take-away options who can replicate the dine-in experience will see additional opportunities for their business. Our job will be to continue to innovate and offer solutions to protect the freshness of the food, whilst supporting the chef and café owners, and of course, making it a wonderful experience for consumers,” Marinucci said.



Mapping ahead for Australia’s food waste future

Food waste is an issue. It’s a massive issue. It’s something that everybody – from consumers and manufacturers through to primary producers – know about, and want to do something about, but never quite get around to fixing. Everybody can take their share of blame. People cook more than they should, picky eaters leave a lot on their plates, primary producers can cause a glut by overproducing certain crops, while retailers are too fussy about the size and shape of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables.

With that in mind, FIAL was engaged by the Australian federal government to identify the way forward. The resulting “Roadmap For Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030” has now been released. Before being appointed by FIAL, Barthel spent more than 10 years in the UK trying to help reduce that country’s food waste issues. And it has been successful.

“Just one example in the UK, with regard to the commitment there, has been with the whole grocery chain,” said Barthel. “It’s saved consumers and businesses $12bn over the first 10 years of activity. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions incredibly efficiently. There was a 28 per cent reduction in food waste over that 10 years with 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions saved. That is a phenomenal thing to be able to say.”

There are a range of issues that need to be addressed, according to Barthel. The bad news is, Australia is behind the eight-ball compared to the UK and other European countries who, in some cases, have had plans in place for a decade. The good news is, that all of the problems that need addressing are solvable. What is obvious to Barthel and those who are trying to bring the roadmap to fruition is that there needs to be collaboration between all aspects of the industry. And this isn’t just a ‘she’ll be right’ and pat each other on the back kind of partnerships. It needs to be a lot more transparent and tangible. Such as? Take contracts for example, said Barthel.

“The way that some contracts are constructed can be an issue, because often there are quite high penalties for partial non delivery,” he said. “That sometimes drives oversupply without intentionally doing so because people are concerned around contract penalties and things like that. So, they produce more food so there is no shortfall but that means there is leftover supply.”

And that oversupply leads to one of the biggest issues surrounding food waste and something that a lot of retailers are starting to address, is around the stringent standards they put on food, particularly fruit and vegetables.

“I do wonder what the impact of this is [throwing out good food because of their shape],” he said. “In an ideal world, you would like to think that consumers are becoming acceptable to vegetables they might not usually see in the supermarket and they want that product irrespective of what size or shape it is. There is an opportunity to re-evaluate the cosmetic standards of produce between the primary producers and retailers.”

He gives a practical example of how a change can occur with regard to the humble potato. When he was in the UK, one of the projects he was involved with was to do with the potato value chain.

“We were working with one of the major retailers and we had a look at their quality statistics, which showed that they believed the optimum circumference of a potato was 45mm,” he said. “We said ‘Why 45mm?’ They said, ‘That’s the way it has always been’.

Again, we said ‘Why?’ It took them a while to find out where the specification had come from and it was written in some time like 1978. There was no agronomic reason behind that circumference. There was no consumer acceptability criteria there or anything.”
Barthel and his team decided to challenge the reasoning behind the standard.

“We thought, ‘What would happen if we reduced the circumference to 43mm?’ We thought consumers would not notice the change. But the farmer did. What the farmer saw was a five per cent increase in utilisation, which was close to $2,000 a hectare.”

Barthel believes it is those sorts of aspirations where savings can be generated and there are some win-wins, not just for primary producers, but for retailers, too.

“We’re asking retailers to question some of the rationale behind these broader quality standards they have,” he said. “They haven’t really seen with their own eyes, themselves, the impact the standards are having on primary producers.”

And that impact can sometimes lead to a double negative whammy at the paddock.
“We see about 31 per cent of food waste appearing in primary production in Australia, and that is about 2.27 million tonnes of food not harvested or ploughed back in,” he said. “And that is to do with economics as well as cosmetic quality standard. What seems to be happening is we have an over production in order for suppliers to hit the retailers perfect quality standard bell curve. And the overproduction itself then depresses the price and to a lot of farmers that means it is uneconomical to get that graded product out of the paddock.”

With the UK model, there were many shifts and changes throughout the past 10 years. That journey took him to a place where supermarkets and hospitality companies tended to have very transactional relationships; very short-term contracts with suppliers.

“In some cases, there were longer, or rolling contracts, for staples like milk and bread and things like that,” he said. “There was a lot of confusion as to what was required from suppliers, as well as at the end of the chain with the supermarkets and convenience stores. What really brought it to a head was that we really moved from a short-term journey – getting away from transactional relationships – to a more strategic food supply relationships, which also meant we had much longer contracting arrangements in place.”
Barthel said it is now not unusual to have 5- or 10-year contracts in place in the UK. He thinks it will lead to long-term, streamlined relationships that will reduce waste. Short-term transactional relationships with suppliers means there is no real incentive for retailers to work differently.

Then there is what Barthel calls the tyranny of distance. A key to food waste reduction is also the ability to extend the shelf life of products. However, that is compromised in Australia for a couple of reasons. A lot of the primary production is done in rural Australia, and being such a vast and sparsely populated continent means a couple of days in shelf life can be wasted in transit. And the transit itself is an issue, because as far as Barthel can see the country has virtually no cold storage chain. He was at a meeting when he brought up the term and got a surprising response.

“When I recently sat down with the Food Cold Chain Council it was very interesting,” he said. “I use the words ‘food cold chain’ in the meeting. The challenge I got back having used that term, with a few minor exceptions, was that there is no food cold chain in Australia. There is a supply chain that is intermittently humidity and temperature controlled. That shocked me. I hadn’t really appreciated how underperforming the cold chain was. Then I got my hands on a draft study the Food Cold Chain Council was putting together. And the study talks about a quarter of the fruit and vegetables going into the food cold chain being wasted, which is close to $3bn worth of food.”

Barthel said that to address some of these issues, there needs to be be what are called Sector Action Plans. This is where certain aspects of food waste are targeted for attention and actions put in place to improve the situation in a particular sector.

“The first section action plan in the roadmap is to work with food rescue and relief as a sector because what we saw from a baseline study was that less than 50,000 tonnes of food is being rescued a year,” he said. “This is at a point in time where 7.4bn tonnes of food is being wasted. We have to find a way to work with that sector so that we can increase the amount of food that is rescued and therefore not wasted. How do we mop up all that surplus food in the system and give it to the people who need it now?”

The second sector plan is to work with Refrigerants Australia and the Cold Chain Council, on how to improve the performance of Australia’s cold chain so more food can get to market before spoiling.

“How can we get the core temperature back before product is shipped? How can we maintain in-trailer temperature? We have to make sure the refrigeration equipment is being used effectively while the food is in transit,” said Barthel. “The other thing in the cold chain is the human factor. We have to stop people leaving doors open on the back dock of a distribution centre as they deliver a frozen or chilled food order. It might take them 20 minutes on a 40˚C day to unload – you’ve just lost you required -18˚C to maintain that food in the space of 20 minutes because you have left the door open.”

Then there is the voluntary factor. Voluntary commitments are just as important as legislation because it gives a sense of ownership and responsibility to all those involved.
“In other countries, voluntary commitments have worked incredibly well,” said Barthel. “In designing a voluntary commitment program for Australia, we looked at 24 other countries that already have a voluntary commitment program to tackle food waste. Some of the results have been astounding.”

According to Barthel, it is almost important to look at what methods are to be used to change peoples’ behaviour.

“That is what the Road Map is all about,” said Barthel “Behaviour change is hard. It takes a lot of time to get it right and to get moving. Typically, when people throw away food – it’s an unconscious behaviour. We don’t think about it. The first step you need to take is raise awareness of the issue. We are starting that, and businesses are now starting to realise how much food is being wasted.

He points to a recent survey of 5,300 households on attitudes on food waste in Australia by Fight Food Waste CRC. It asked those households what they thought was causing waste in the home and what could be done about it.

“We could see from the answers that there tends to be an understated amount of waste they are throwing out,” said Barthel. “What we could also see was that there was a substantial gap between stated behaviour and actual behaviour. What that means is people throw out more food than they think they do. The good news is that the study also showed the 76 per cent of Australian households are motivated to reduce food waste. And that is something that we can help both businesses and households can build on.”

The roadmap to halve food waste by 2030

Each year, over seven million tonnes of food are wasted in Australia, costing the economy an estimated $20 billion. At the same time, more than one in five have experienced some form of food insecurity.

In 2017, the Australian Government released the National Food Waste Waste Strategy, which included a national target to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030. This commitment received the support of all of Australia’s environment ministers. Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) was engaged as the independent organisation to support the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy.

Today we are releasing the Roadmap for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030, which marks a key milestone in the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy. The Roadmap provides a clear path forward for achieving the 50% reduction in food waste, acknowledging the current challenges and efforts.

The Roadmap sets out the short, medium to long-term actions needed to support reductions in food waste, including a Voluntary Commitment Program. This Target, Measure, Act approach has been successful all over the world in helping agri-food businesses to better understand and reduce their food waste. FIAL will now be focusing on finalising the Voluntary Commitment Program to engage business in food waste reduction activities.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, was among those that welcomed the release of the Roadmap, setting the direction for all levels of government, industry and other key stakeholders to reduce Australia’s food waste.

“The Roadmap is a positive step forward as we work to achieve our national goal of halving the amount of food going to landfill by 2030 – this is undoubtedly an ambitious goal and to achieve it, we need everyone to play their part,” said Carolyn Cameron, general manager food sustainability.

“The food rescue sector plays an important role in ensuring food that’s perfectly edible doesn’t go to landfill, and instead is diverted to Australians experiencing food shortages. So I am very pleased to see the four major food rescue and relief organisations working collaboratively together to achieve these objectives”.

Over the past two years, FIAL has been working closely with multiple stakeholders to identify the steps required to make the food waste reduction target a reality.

These stakeholders include food rescue and relief organisations, agri-food industry peak bodies, the Fight Food Waste CRC, the National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee, the States and Territory Government Reference Group, and various national and international food waste experts

Commercial opportunities for potato waste

Four of the largest potato producers in Australia want to convert 100 per cent of their potato waste into commercial benefit through their partnership with the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Over the next three years, The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, The South Australian Potato Company, together with Industry Association; Potatoes South Australia Inc, and the University of Adelaide will invest nearly $1m in this research and development to save up to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes currently going to waste every year.

Chief executive of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis, said that this is a fantastic opportunity for Australia, particularly South Australia as it is the largest potato growing state.

“We are seeing up to 40 per cent of potatoes rejected because they do not meet retail specifications. At the same time Australia is importing 20,000 tonnes of potato starch each year, and it just doesn’t make sense that we’re not using these huge volumes of potatoes for alternative purposes,” she said.

A large focus of this project is the potential development of an Australian potato starch industry which would provide additional revenue for Australian potato companies; potentially $1,000 a tonne for extracted starch instead of the current value of $0-10 a tonne for the waste.

“Potato starch is used broadly across the food industry, for bioplastics and packaging, to coatings and adhesives. We also want to use the waste from the waste, so after extracting the potato starch, there will be further opportunities using the residual waste from this first stage,” said Davis.

The four Australian potato companies that have partnered with the Fight Food Waste CRC are leaders in their industry and recognise the opportunity this represents to the industry.

Professor Vincent Bulone from the University of Adelaide is leading this research project from his world-class analytical centre for complex carbohydrate analysis, Adelaide Glycomics. The project is in line with the University’s industry engagement priority on agrifood and wine.

“There are different forms of starch in potatoes that can be used in different products. For example, existing research suggests that the less digestible starches in potatoes, the so-called ‘resistant starches’, can be used to make superior pre-biotics that help prevent infections,” said Bulone

“Another known starch component can be used to engineer low GI foods, and the skins of the potatoes themselves contain bioactives that can be used for a range of commercial products like nutraceuticals.”

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge is thrilled to have such a transformational project underway so early in the Fight Food Waste CRC’s journey, and sees the partnership between all of the potato producers as a great example of what CRCs can achieve.

“We’re looking to develop new products from current waste streams that will deliver additional profit to potato producers through domestic and export sales.

“Through investing in research and development we aim to deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project.

“This project is exactly what the CRC is all about; delivering real benefit for Australian businesses across the whole of the value chain.”