How to reduce household food waste and cost of living


According to new research from the Fight Food Waste CRC, Australian households can save thousands of dollars each year using simple measures to reduce food waste. 

The landmark Designing effective interventions to reduce household food waste research project is the most comprehensive of its kind ever conducted in Australia. Australians throw out $19.3 billion worth of food each year – or over half of the annual $36.6 billion worth of food wasted from farm to fork in the Australian economy. 

These findings have major implications for governments, industry and policy makers, as Australia is committed to halving its food waste by 2030. 

The project highlights the increasing need for a major nationwide behaviour change campaign that is centred on helping consumers reduce the amount of food they waste. 

Key findings in the report, co-authored by Dr Gamithri Karunasena and Professor David Pearson from the Fight Food Waste CRC, include: 

  • The biggest way for households to save money is by reducing wasted meat and fresh vegetables; 
  • Families with young children, particularly when both adults work full-time, have the largest opportunity to reduce food waste; and 
  • To reduce food waste in the home, the key areas to focus on are: 
    • Preparing appropriate amounts of food 
    • Planning for changes in meal plans 
    • Eating leftovers 
    • Purchasing appropriate amounts. 

According to Karunasena, the findings will help guide everyone who is keen to see the amount of food wasted in homes reduced. 

“The Food waste in Australian households: evidence for designing interventions report captures key findings from our research. These are based on analysis of data from 2,800 Australian households and their behaviours around food waste,” Karunasena said. 

“This research paints the fullest picture yet of our current behaviours around food waste in the home, and also points towards the simple steps that can be taken by Australians to begin to reduce their food waste.” 


Karunasena also said that the data states Australians waste the equivalent to nearly $1,000 per person each year. 

“Our research has given us invaluable insight into the different types of food waste personas within households, namely Over Providers, Under Planners and Considerate Planners,” Karunasena said. 

“All of us waste food, and we each fit one of these personas. However, we also know Australians do not want to waste food and now we know what to do to help them in that.” 

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO, Dr Steven Lapidge, said acting to reduce food waste across Australian households is even more timely as the cost of living continues to rise. 

“This research comes at a critical time. While it shows how much of a financial burden food waste can be for Australian households, it also identifies how we can reduce our food waste and save money,” Lapidge said. 

“Australia has set an ambitious goal of halving its food waste by 2030. It will be challenging to achieve but not impossible. Research like this helps as it shows the extent of the problem and how we can start to solve it. It’s particularly important for decision-makers in federal, state and local governments, supermarkets and food businesses who can use the data and learnings to inform and improve the impact from their waste reduction campaigns.” 

The project was supported by state and territory governments, a supermarket chain, food rescue charities and the Central Queensland University. 

The report, Food Waste in Australian Households: Evidence for Designing Interventions was released on 27 April as part of Stop Food Waste Day. Designed to educate and ignite change in the fight against wasted food, Stop Food Waste Day is led by Australian Food Pact signatory Compass Group. 


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