Machine turns tonnes of food scraps into wastewater in Melbourne

A machine installed by City of Melbourne has stopped more than 60 tonnes of garbage from going to landfill in the past year by turning food scraps into wastewater.

In the 12 months to June 2018, the Orca aerobic digestion system used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the Degraves Street café precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in operation in Australia.

Orca Enviro Systems executive general manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digested the waste, creating wastewater that went straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

“The Orca is basically a mechanical stomach that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” said Papas.

READ: App takes bite out of food waste

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment,” he said.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road. Orca has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” said Papas.

With food scraps generated from this busy café district increasing and with space at a premium, Orca was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste.

It is part of a new wave of food recycling technology that is rolling out across Australia in shopping centres, food courts, hotels and pubs.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling facility in May 2017.

Orca focuses on reducing business’ environmental impact through the better management of organic food waste.

To do this, it partnered with Totally Green as the exclusive distributor of the Orca food waste system in Australia.

 

Sodexo Australia saves tonnes of food from going to waste

Sodexo Australia will divert tonnes of quality surplus food each year that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Sodexo will save more than 9920kg of surplus food, in a new partnership with online surplus food wholesale marketplace Yume.

Sodexo Australia chief financial officer and country president, Mark Chalmers, said the partnership would see products purchased through Yume used at Sodexo sites across Australia.

It forms part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap.

READ: Perth hotel diverts food waste from landfill with BioBags

“Globally, Sodexo serves 100 million consumers every day, so we have tremendous capacity to reduce waste by improving how we deliver our services. We’re dedicated to finding new ways to minimise our collective waste and environmental impact and partnering with Yume is a great way to do this,” said Chalmers.

Recently, Sodexo Australia purchased more than 500kg of premium Australian feta cheese, more than five tonnes of crushed tomatoes and a range of poultry products.

To date, Sodexo has purchased 9920kg of food from Yume, equating to 684,480 litres of water saved and 20 tonnes of CO2 prevented.

The concept of Yume works off selling surplus stock of perfectly good food from quality HACCP accredited suppliers, including Unilever Foods Solutions and Mondelez, to prevent it from going to waste.

Yume founder Katy Barfield said the company was thrilled to partner with Sodexo.

“Australia sends a staggering 9.5 million tonnes of food to landfill each year and the Australian Government estimates that food waste is costing the economy $20 billion per year.”

To-date Yume has returned more than $1.5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers and has diverted 300,000kg of product from going to waste.

Environmentally, this equates to 600 tonnes of CO2 prevented and over 20.7 million litres of water saved.

App takes bite out of food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities to make donating excess food simple and easy has been developed by Edith Cowan University researchers.

The ReFood app, which was recently trialled in the City of Swan, connects local restaurants and cafés with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute their excess food to those who need it.

While many larger food producers and retailers already have arrangements with food banks, the app fills a gap in the market, allowing local cafes to give away even small volumes of food directly to any not-for-profit organisations.

The brainchild of ECU School of Medical and Health Sciences PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska, the ReFood app was developed thanks to a $12,798 grant from the Waste Authority WA’s Community Grants Scheme.

“The main aim of the ReFood app is to both reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and also making it much easier for small businesses to link up with not-for-profits to share food,” Stojanoska said.

“The app is very simple to use. All a business has to do is download the app, then when they have excess food they can enter it into the app along with a time that it can be collected. Then a not-for-profit organisation can see what’s available and if the food is suitable for their needs, come and collect it.

“It even shows what food has been donated so businesses can have a record of what they have given away.”

The Crooked Spire Coffee House in Midland was the first business to sign up for the ReFood app.

Owner Mike Matich said the best thing about the ReFood app was how easy it was to use.

“No one likes the idea of food being thrown away, so when I heard about the ReFood app and how it could help us link up with local not-for profits I was stoked to take part,” he said.

“It’s super easy to use, all I have to do is enter what type of excess food I have, how much I have and what time it can be collected then wait for it to be picked up.”

DreambuildersCare is a not-for-profit organisation that operates a low-cost supermarket in Midland as well as offering emergency food relief to people in need.

Manager Ursula Dixon said the ReFood app was a great way for the non-for profit sector and food business to work together to tackle both food waste and food insecurity.

“We love how easy that app is to use. We can see food pop up on the app and then being able to go and pick it up is fantastic,” she said.

“I’m surprised someone hadn’t thought of the idea before.”

Waste Authority acting chair Jenny Bloom said the ReFood app would help to achieve the target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020.

“Initiatives like the ReFood app can help increase awareness and education around our understanding of the benefits of waste avoidance, reuse and recycling,” she said.

Ele said she was currently analysing the data collected in the pilot of the ReFood app in the City of Swan.

“We’re keen to work with local governments to get the ReFood app rolled out across Perth,” she said

AIP to run food waste half-day training course for Thailand

As a part of the Australian Institute of Packaging’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12:3 the Institute will be taking its new ‘Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste’ half-day training course to Thailand in June as a part of ProPak Asia 2018.

Taking place on Wednesday 14th of June, the course is supported by the Asian Packaging Federation, the Indonesian Packaging Federation and the World Packaging Organisation. It is open to anyone in the industry who needs to better understand the issue of food waste and packaging.

Overview on course:

Over one third of the food grown for human consumption is lost or wasted between farm and fork. In Australia alone it is estimated to be valued at $20 billion per year, with half of this occurring in households. There are many reasons why this loss is occurring. There are also many opportunities to be more efficient with resources.

This course will provide participants with an introduction to the seriousness of food waste in this country and globally and how we can all make a difference as team members of the product-packaging design process to this issue.

It will cover packaging design criteria for Best-Practice Save Food Packaging Design developments that should be considered. With hands-on and practical case studies participants will learn how designing packaging to save food actually saves food.

Course Objectives:

  •  Understanding of where and why food loss and waste occurs.
  • Understanding the role of packaging in minimising loss through the supply chain and at the household level.
  • Understanding of key packaging design criteria to minimise food loss/waste.
  • Appreciation of the environmental life cycle profile of food, packaging and food waste.

This course is ideally suited to packaging technologists, designers, engineers, marketers, production and procurement managers and for industries across the food supply chain (farm to fork).

Where:

Room 223

Bitec

Bang Na, Bangkok 10260, Thailand

Course Presenter: Pierre Pienaar (Prof) MSc, FAIP, CPP; Education Director – Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)

 

To register your place simply book on-line at https://aipack.com.au/event-registration/?ee=161 or https://www.propakasia.com/ppka/2018/en/conference.asp

 

New appointment and funding to drive national food waste strategy

Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) has announced the appointment of Genevieve Bateman as General Manager of Food Sustainability, a newly created position to support the implementation of Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy.

Managing Director of FIAL, Dr Mirjana Prica, congratulated Ms Bateman on her appointment and said that she will bring tremendous experience and proven success at delivering significant government initiatives to the issues of food waste.

“Ms  Bateman will lead the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy and work with industry, business and government across the food supply chain to find collaborative solutions to the food waste problem which costs the Australian economy $20 billion per year.

“Ms Bateman’s career spanning both the public service and private sector will be an asset to FIAL and her enthusiasm and passion will be instrumental in delivering this exciting initiative.”

“One of the key roles for Ms Bateman over the next 24 months will be to identify short, medium and long-term outcomes for the delivery of the strategy and how these outcomes will be measured against our 2030 target.

“FIAL is also delighted to announce a call for innovative projects that encourage collaboration between small and large businesses in the food and agribusiness sector, to lift productivity and competitiveness.

“We will match funding of over $100,000 and up to $1 million to help industry and agribusiness solve an innovation challenge. Projects that involve and benefit multiple businesses across the sector will be viewed more favourably for funding.

“Now that Ms Bateman has joined us, FIAL’s attention will turn to working hard on the four key areas of the National Food Waste Strategy: policy support, business improvements, market development and behaviour change.

“I am also delighted that the Australian Government recently increased its funding for food waste and announced a further $30 million in funding for the Fight Food Waste CRC to empower industry and individuals to help tackle food insecurity and enhance Australia’s reputation as a sustainable producer of premium food products.

“This decision builds on the $1.37 million already contributed by the Australian Government and states and territories towards eliminating food waste.

 “I look forward to working with the new CRC,” said Dr Prica.

 The National Food Waste Strategy is being delivered as part of the Australian’s Government election commitment to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030.

Fight Food Waste CRC established

A new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), supported by a $30 million grant from the Turnbull Government’s CRC Program, has been established.

The Fight Food Waste CRC will support industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community to address the issue of food waste and help the Government to fulfil its National Food Waste Strategy commitment to halve food waste in Australia.

CRCs link industry expertise with our world-class research capability and generate new knowledge, solve problems and offer opportunities to commercialise new ideas.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash welcomed the funding for the new CRC and said it had great potential to deliver economic and social benefits to Australians.

“As the Australian Government’s longest-running grant program, the CRC Program is at the heart of our efforts to bring researchers and industry together to focus on solving industry-related problems,” Minister Cash said.

Assistant Minister for Science, Job and Innovation, Zed Seselja said the CRC Program had a proven track record in delivering tangible benefits for industry and the community.

“The CRC Program continues to be central to the Coalition Government’s commitment to improving the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries.

“This funding will be used to identify opportunities and solutions to reduce food wastage from paddock to plate,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.

Applications for the next CRC grant selection round are expected to open in May 2018.

The Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste – AIP training course

As a part of the Australian Institute of Packaging’s commitment to the National Food Waste Strategy the Institute has developed a new half-day training course on The Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste. The first course will be held on the 21 March in Melbourne, Victoria with all of industry invited to attend.

This course is ideally suited to packaging technologists, designers, engineers, marketers, production and procurement managers and for industries across the food supply chain (farm to fork).

Karli Verghese FAIP, Principal Research Fellow, Industrial Design program School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, will present the course.

Course objectives:

  • Understanding of where and why food loss and waste occurs.
  • Understanding the role of packaging in minimising loss through the supply chain and at the household level.
  • Understanding of key packaging design criteria to minimise food loss/waste.
  • Appreciation of the environmental life cycle profile of food, packaging and food waste.

 

South Melbourne Market wins environmental award

The South Melbourne Market’s work to recycle tonnes of food, vegetable and other waste, and other sustainable practices is cutting business costs and greenhouses gas emissions.

The market, won the Institute of Public Affairs Australia’s Victorian Environmental Sustainability Award, sponsored by Sustainability Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

“As community expectations about environmental sustainability grows and waste disposal costs rise, it’s clear that the South Melbourne’s market is hitting the mark on both counts,” Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.

“The South Melbourne Market’s comprehensive program could be applied to other markets and shopping centres, not just in Melbourne, but around Australia,” Krpan said.

“The City of Port Phillip, market management and the businesses that operate there are doing a great job to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable people in the community.”

The market processed around 400 cubic metres of green waste in 2016/17 (equivalent to more than 22 garbage trucks) through a worm farm creating Market Magic, a mix of worm poo and mushroom compost which is sold at the market.

The market also has a fast-working Gaia recycling unit which turns 8.4 tonnes of food and other waste into compost, also sold at the market, every week. Over a year, the weight recycled is equivalent to 20 Melbourne trams.

Approximately 10,800 litres of oil was collected from the Market in 2016-17. Most is turned into biodiesel which is used in the vehicles which collect it.

New advocacy group addressing food waste in Australia

New advocacy group, the Australian Food Cold Chain Council, aims to address food wastage by showing food producers, logistics operators, supermarkets and consumers the cost of inaction.

The Federal Government estimates that wastage across the Australian food cold chain costs the economy $20 billion each year. In November 2017, the Department of the Environment and Energy released the National Food Waste Strategy, a document outlining the impact – both economic and societal – of food wastage, and what action the Government will take to tackle the issue and halve wastage by 2030.

One group already aware of the urgency of the problem is the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), an advocacy group launched by logistics professionals in August dedicated to spreading knowledge about food wastage, improving compliance and refining legislation, With senior figures at major Australian refrigeration, manufacturing and transport companies as founding members, the AFCCC aims to be part of the solution to Australia’s food waste problem.

“We want to change the industry for the better,” said Mark Mitchell, chair of the AFCCC and managing director of cold storage and transport specialist Supercool Asia Pacific.

The AFCCC is targeting the middle section of the cold food chain, which the Government estimates accounts for almost a third of the $20 billion lost annually. “Food moving from the farm to the consumer – in transport and in storage – accounts for $6.4 billion in losses annually,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is a tendency for businesses in refrigerated transport and storage to be price driven, rather than quality driven. The by-product of this is wastage, a lack of compliance and a disregard for correct procedures.”

Mitchell pointed out that the industry has been ripe for a process overhaul for some time, but it is increasing consumer interest in companies’ “triple bottom lines” – or their social and environmental impact, not only financial performance – that has created the perfect conditions for him and other industry veterans to take action.

“We’ve been trying to do things ‘better’ for many years, while trying to appeal to businesses that are driven by the dollar to step up,” he said. “It’s very hard to ask companies to pick up their quality games when everyone is focusing on delivering the cheapest product.

“In recent times, society, consumers, governments – everyone who lives on the planet – they have realised that we can’t keep abusing the environment like we have been. With this shift in focus, we can encourage refrigerated logistics businesses to do the job properly, resulting in a cold chain that produces less wastage and fewer emissions, while improving food safety and quality for consumers.”

The cost of waste 

Mitchell said that the “cost” of discarded food does not only represent the price paid for it by the consumer, it is calculated based on the water, fuel and human resources it took to get it from the paddock to the plate – though food waste does not occur only at the end of the supply chain.

“You can’t just blame the consumer food wastage. This is 25 per cent of the problem, the other 75 per cent of food wastage happens upstream in the supply chain,” he said.

‘Temperature abuse’ – the failure to maintain transported and stored food items within recommended temperature ranges – is rampant in Australia, Mitchell explained. At worst, it can compromise food safety, though most consumers will have unknowingly fallen victim.

“We see a lot of temperature abuse, and it’s something that affects all of us on a daily basis,” he added.

“That pack of sausages that lasted two weeks in the fridge last time you bought it – it only lasted three or four days this time due to a lack of care in the cold chain.

One of our priorities will be to apply pressure in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold-chain food handling are properly followed.”

A more compliant cold chain – free from temperature and hygiene abuse
– will mean that food lasts longer on supermarket shelves and longer in the family fridge, Mitchell explained.

According to Mitchell, in order to improve Australia’s “far from perfect” track record in efficient, farm-to-plate cold-food handling, collaboration between government, industry associations, food handlers and suppliers will be crucial.

“There’s lots of rhetoric about commitments to food waste reduction and cold chain compliance, but little, if nothing, is being done at any level about improving the cold chain, and ensuring that standards are followed,” he said.

“Nearly 40 per cent of all the food we produce in the world is never eaten. Consider that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found in 2013 that one in every eight people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night – there’s a whole food wastage agenda to fix globally.”

Future focus

The 2017 Hunger Report prepared by Australian non-profit Food Bank found that food insecurity is a growing concern locally, which Mark thinks many Australians would find surprising. It reported that 3.6 million Australians had experienced food insecurity within 12 months of being surveyed – and pressure on food charities is increasing by 10 per cent each year.

“Our focus on making the cold chain better essentially comes at the task from two perspectives – reducing the environmental impact of food wastage through CO2 emissions, and tackling hunger,” said Mitchell. “If we want to feed the globe, we’re going to need to develop and maintain highly efficient refrigeration systems in the cold chain.”

He added that The World Health Organization’s How to feed the world in 2050 report, produced in 2009, projected that if global food wastage continues at its current rate, there will not be enough to feed the world’s population by 2050.

“We produce enough food for 10 billion people right now, though there are only seven billion of us,” said Mitchell. “We have to fix this – I don’t want my great grandchildren living in an environment where there’s not enough food on the shelf.”

Josh Frydenberg, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy, has invited the AFCCC to sit on the steering committee shaping and implementing the policies that will support the National Food Waste Strategy. “We will help the Federal Government as much as we can,” said Mitchell. “For us, a major priority will be establishing a decent code of practice for the carriage of chilled and fresh produce, a document that the industry is missing.

“While most of the developed world is on the cusp on taking initiatives to stem food wastage, at present it’s more talk than action. I think Frydenberg is to be congratulated on having developed a formal, national food waste reduction strategy – it’s a little bit visionary.”

The AFCCC has entered into a partnership with the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), with the groups working together to revise and rewrite the code of practice for the road transportation of fresh product, a “long overdue” update, according to Mitchell. “The code of practice that is in place currently was a voluntary guide put together by the now-defunct Australian United Fresh Transport Advisory Council,” he said. “We’re going to review and rewrite the document, so that it can support legal implementation.”

The AFCCC is also keen to raise industry awareness of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) in ambient and cold food supply chains, with a view to eventually developing an accreditation program.

“Very few trucks or loading docks in Australia have temperature monitoring, even though the technology is available,” said Mitchell. “The nation’s cold chain compliance is behind other developed nations, and Europe is leading the way. We want to spread the word about the HACCP principles, to show businesses how to improve food safety and gain better control over their supply chain.”

After that, he said, the end goal is to get every stakeholder carrying food for Australian consumers involved in an accreditation program – through a common desire to do better, ideally, rather than through fear of legal reproach. “We believe there’s a better way to go about bringing in better standards than by enforcing strict legislation – there are already more than enough rules to follow in Australia,” he said.

“We want this to be about doing the right thing, for the right reasons – and it won’t hurt companies’ triple bottom lines when consumers see the steps they’re taking to help end hunger, reduce their impact on the environment and maintain quality and food safety.”

Mitchell hopes that the coming years will see a shift in the way Australia’s cold chain, retailers and consumers think about the food they buy, eat and discard.

“It is my wish and the AFCCC’s wish to enable and empower the logistics industry, food producers, supermarkets and all other stakeholders to voluntarily do some heavy lifting to bring about a compliant, quality cold-chain and supply environment,” he said.

New SA technology to tackle agricultural waste

Technology developed in South Australia that will make it more affordable to convert agricultural waste into high value activated carbon could soon be on the market.

Adelaide based company ByGen’s breakthrough product has the potential to convert millions of tonnes of low-value agricultural waste into high value activated carbon, which can be used to remediate contaminated soil and mine sites.

To help the project come to fruition, the company received a $217,000 through the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund (SAECF) – administered by high-tech accelerator, TechInSA.

Activated carbon is used to purify soils and liquids by adsorbing pollutants. It also has the potential to be used in water purification.

Although activated carbon can be made from agricultural wastes, the costs currently associated with it are high. Most activated carbon is made from expensive and non-renewable hardwood or coal, rather than cheap and abundant sources of agricultural waste.

The ByGen process enables on-site conversion of agricultural waste into high-value activated carbon (or biochar), using a compact and mobile unit which operates at a low cost.

The unit can be easily and cost effectively transported to multiple sites.

“The global market for activated carbon is estimated to be worth around US$5 billion annually and is growing rapidly,” said South Australian Innovation and Science Minister Kyam Maher.

“Without this technology we can expect the cost for high value carbon to escalate, as demand for housing grows, increasing the need to use land previously occupied by industry.

“This technology provides South Australia with the opportunity to tap into around $1 billion of revenue annually.”

Foodbank calls for Food Insecurity strategy

Hunger relief organisation Foodbank is also calling on the Federal Government to develop a National Food Insecurity Strategy, to ensure both food insecurity and food waste are addressed.

The call comes as Australia’s first-ever National Food Waste Strategy is set to be launched today. While Foodbank welcomes this as a step towards providing long-term solutions to the $20 billion food waste problem, the organisation wants more attention to be also given to the issue of food security.

“A food waste strategy is long-overdue, but we are concerned that it appears to lack the necessary funding to ensure rapid implementation. Nevertheless, it is a great first step in reducing the amount of perfectly edible food that is wasted, particularly given this country’s worrying food insecurity problem,” Foodbank CEO, Brianna Casey said.

The latest Foodbank Hunger Report revealed that a shocking 3.6 million Australians (15% of the population) were food insecure, meaning they had experienced uncertainty around where their next meal was coming from in the last 12 months – and they are not who you’d think. Almost half of food insecure Australians are employed with 2 in 5 of these households being families with dependent children.

“The food supply and demand equation is entirely out of balance in Australia, not helped at all by the fact that we are wasting staggering amounts of food,” Ms Casey said. “How can it be that we produce enough food in Australia to feed approximately 60 million people, yet 3.6 million Australians were food insecure last year?”

Foodbank argues that the issue is not so much that there is not enough food, but that the food isn’t getting to the right places, in the right time, to help address food insecurity and avoid waste. As such, Foodbank is calling on the Federal Government to complement its National Food Waste Strategy with a whole-of-government strategy to address Australia’s growing food insecurity crisis.

To combat hunger in Australia, Foodbank works closely with farmers, manufacturers, and retailers, to source fresh and manufactured foods for vulnerable Australians in need. The farm sector generously donates large volumes of fresh produce each year, with last financial year’s donations including:

  • 112,000 kilograms of unprocessed and manufactured rice and grain products,
  • 1.2 million litres of fresh milk,
  • 196,000 kilograms of meat,
  • 5.8 million kilograms of fruit and vegetables, and
  • 112,000 kilograms of eggs.

“Only one day out from National Agriculture Day, it is important that our farmers across the country know that the entire supply chain will be working together to ensure the wonderful, fresh produce they work so hard to grow will not be wasted,” Ms Casey said.

“Farmers right across Australia are already donating huge volumes of fresh produce to Foodbank, and we’re not just talking about the produce that doesn’t meet cosmetic standards,” Ms Casey said.  “Many farmers are regularly donating first-grade produce to Foodbank to help families, just like their own, who are doing it tough right now.

“We are so grateful to our farm sector and the food and grocery industry for their ongoing commitment to helping everyday Australians who are going through tough times, helping Foodbank tackle both food insecurity and food waste,” she said.

Repackaging the impact of food waste

As consumer awareness of the magnitude of food waste grows, Sealed Air’s Ron Cotterman says the time for retailers to implement more effective preventive measures is now.

Across the globe, one-third of the food we produce is wasted each year. That equates to some 1.3 billion tonnes of food, causing both economic losses and significant damage to the environment, according to the United Nations.

Where and how that food is wasted differs from country to country. In developing nations, most of the food waste occurs during the production phase (due to lack of sufficient refrigeration and poor infrastructure), with very little waste on the consumer side. More developed countries are very efficient at moving food to the point of processing and retailing, but large amounts of waste is occurring at the consumer side.

To highlight this growing issue of food waste, and to explore the opportunities that using innovative packaging can bring to retailers and consumers, leading packaging company Sealed Air recently released a report, Taking Action to Tackle Food Waste Challenges, as part of its commitment to reducing food waste.

The report highlighted the current impact of food waste in Australia and New Zealand, which currently stands at 8.3 million tonnes annually, at a retail value of $9.5 billion. In the average Australian and New Zealand household, consumers are essentially throwing $1000 worth of food in the bin each year.

The leading cause of consumer and retail food waste, according to Sealed Air’s vice president of sustainability Ron Cotterman, is the increasing amount of fresh foods demanded by consumers and their inherently perishable nature. “When you look at fresh food there is more wastage because a portion of the food will typically spoil or expire before it can be consumed,” he said. “So when it comes to opportunities to reduce food waste, [one solution] is actually to protect food so that it stays fresh for longer.

“In other words, increase the shelf life or the freshness of that food that otherwise might spoil. If you could make that last a week, two weeks or even longer, and maintain that freshness, you have a greater chance of reducing the amount of food that gets wasted across the supply chain. That is either in retail or food service but also increasing the amount of food that gets consumed in our households.”

According to Sealed Air’s study, 83 per cent of retailers in Australia and 90 per cent of retailers in New Zealand believe shelf life is critical to reducing shrink. When it comes to an increase in profits by controlling shrink, Australian retailers forecast this to be four per cent, while retailers in New Zealand forecast six per cent.

Sealed Air is taking action to address this is by offering food processors and retailers packaging solutions that extend shelf life, improve food safety and consequently lower costs. One example of this is Cryovac Darfresh; a vacuum packaging that provides a unique combination of longer shelf life and more dramatic product presentation. In this innovative package, the food product itself enables the finished package to have a smooth, skin-tight appearance that appeals to consumers while also giving them more time to enjoy the fresh product.

But packaging is just one solution to the food waste problem. Today, most retailers respond to the crisis when products are close to expiration and need to be consumed or donated in some way. However, Cotterman said alternative action can be taken. “We are seeing a number of retailers participating with organisations to donate food so that it doesn’t end up going to a landfill or disposed of in another way, but there is another action that retailers can take,” he said.

“That action is to look at the food they are wasting and prevent that waste in the first place. In other words, better analytics, better inventory management to know what food categories are spoiling and why, and to then work to extend shelf life so that food ultimately does not need to be donated,” he said.

Darfresh on Tray by Sealed Air.
Darfresh on Tray by Sealed Air.

 

 

“The ability to be ahead is key to extending shelf life, labelling food properly and then informing the consumer about the best ways to store and use that food.”

Traditionally, Sealed Air has focused on its state-of-the-art methods of extending the shelf life of foods through packaging solutions. But more recently, it has been trying to understand how data from the supply chain can be utilised and what kind of data and measurements it can make within its customers’ facilities. Ultimately this will flow through to retail, and hopefully in the future to consumers to ensure transparency in the entire supply chain.

“We talk a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) and data, but let’s apply that very specifically to the amount of food that is being wasted,” said Cotterman. “Let’s use the techniques that are available in other market sectors and apply them to the food industry to manage one of our most valuable resources:  fresh, nutritious food.”

“The retail supply chain will have a key role in reducing food waste; predominantly that’s through data management. So, understanding the sources of food waste across the supply chain and the interventions that can occur across those points is going to be absolutely key.”

When it comes to the role of consumers in reducing food waste, education is pivotal in helping them recognise the problem and to consequently drive behaviour that will result in less waste. As part of this effort, Sealed Air is investigating how it can address consumer misconceptions around packaging and its effect on the environment.

The company conducted a Harris Poll that revealed nine out of 10 consumers view packaging to be worse for the environment than food waste. In reality, said Cotterman, the opposite is true.

“If you do a very analytical study and look at the environmental impact of food waste, and compare that to the environmental impact of packaging, you can show that food waste is significantly worse, almost an order of magnitude greater than the environmental impact of the packaging used to protect it. So we have been looking how we can use information on the packaging that informs the consumer why certain products are packaged the way they are.”

“We think that by educating the consumer on the value of increasing the shelf life and providing extra time and convenience in the use of that food, will ultimately give them the ability to reduce the amount of food that they waste,” he said.

Confusion over labelling is also a big contributor to food waste. Terms such as ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘best by’ are used interchangeably by processers, and create a lot of confusion, causing consumers to throw food away before it is actually spoiling.

One solution being addressed today by governments and industry experts is standardising and clarifying food date labelling.  As a result the two standards occurring globally now are ‘best if used by’ and ‘expires on’. The first is used for food that reaches a maximum freshness by a certain time period but is still safe to consume for some period after that date.  The second tells the consumer that after that date, the food may no longer be safe to eat and consequently should be discarded.

The driving message around food waste, concludes Cotterman, is that no single company or country is capable of tackling the issue alone. Governments, businesses and organisations need to collaborate to ensure a more sustainable future.

“We are seeing large groups forming and coming together to try and determine where and why food is being wasted across the supply chain. [They are looking at] what sort of interventions, what sort innovations and what sort of technologies can be applied to the food waste they are identifying, how this can be prevented and how more food can flow through that system to the consumer,” he said.

“Innovation, education and collaboration.  By aligning efforts to prevent food waste, we can work together across the supply chain to come up with methods to reduce the amount of waste and its impacts.  This is good news for consumers, for the environment and for business.”

IoT has a role to play in reducing food waste.
IoT has a role to play in reducing food waste.

Deakin Uni trial diverts food waste from landfill

Hundreds of tonnes of greenhouse gas-producing food waste could be saved from landfill each year thanks to an innovative new environmental system at Deakin University.

A successful three month trial has shown the system has the potential to reduce waste by approximately 12 tonnes a year from one of the University’s corporate hospitality centres at the Waurn Ponds Estate.

Deakin Organisational Sustainability Manager Emma Connan said the Estate previously generated more than 24 tonnes of total waste per year – or 460kg per week – but the Closed Loop CLO-30 system enabled diversion of more than 245kg of weekly waste away from landfill by converting it into high-quality fertiliser.

Ms Connan said Deakin would now review whether the system could be implemented across the organisation’s four campuses and 19 food sites, possibly kicking off with a precinct-scale trial at Deakin University’s Melbourne Burwood Campus.

The move could potentially save hundreds of tonnes of food waste from ending up in landfill each year.

Ms Connan said Deakin was committed to being a leader in sustainability and environmental responsibility among the communities it serves.

“As Deakin University prepares and educates the next generation, we also have a responsibility to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate our impact on the environment for those future generations,” she said.

“Reducing waste and improving sustainability is such a hot topic at the moment, and food waste can play a big role in that.”

The successful trial program has led to Deakin University being shortlisted as a finalist in the 2017 Green Gown Awards Australasia, which is being held by Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability on 2 November.

The Closed Loop CLO-30 system works through pouring food waste into the machine, which then uses controlled temperatures, agitation, airflow and organic starter material to decompose and pasteurise the food and organic waste into dry compost over 24 hours.

The output of the technology is a nitrogen and phosphorous-rich soil conditioner or fertiliser, which Ms Connan said was perfect for established plants in the garden and could also be integrated into the soil one or two weeks prior to planting.

“What you’re left with is a beautiful, rich, dry soil conditioner, which is then used on the Estate’s organic kitchen garden,” she said.

Ms Connan said the process also reduced environmentally-harmful greenhouse gas emissions by up to eight tonnes per year, even after taking into account energy consumption and emissions from operating the technology.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from food waste can be a huge problem,” she said.

“Research shows that food waste can produce 21 times more greenhouse gas emissions in landfill compared to rubbish and hard waste.”

Following the successful three month trial, the Waurn Ponds Estate – which operates a restaurant and regularly hosts catered functions and conferences – has now committed to using the system fulltime.

“It’s very simple technology to use and the process of involving all of our food sites sounds simple, but one of the issues to overcome with expanding the operation is going to be transporting food waste, which involves quite a lot of OHS considerations and regulations,” Ms Connan said.

The Deakin University food waste processing trial was completed in partnership with the CSIRO, the City of Greater Geelong and the Geelong Manufacturing Council.

 

Packaging as part of the food waste solution

While there are clear humanitarian, environmental and economic reasons to reduce food waste, the solutions to the problem are not as clear. We spoke to Karl Deily, President of Sealed Air Food Care to hear his views on how to best address this problem.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that one third of all food produced globally each year is wasted.

Food waste also has major environmental implications. According to the World Resources Institute, if global food wastage were a country, it would rank only behind China and the US as the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.

In Australia, according to the Federal Government, consumers waste 20 per cent of food they buy, while the commercial and industrial sectors waste around three million tonnes of food annually. All this is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion a year.

The Federal Government has committed to reducing Australia’s food waste by 50 per cent by 2030. It will hold a National Food Waste summit involving government, industry, academia and the not-for-profit sector in November this year. The government has flagged the possibility of introducing incentives to reduce the amount of food ending up as landfill.

In other words, there has never been a better time than now for industry to address the problem. With this in mind, Food & Beverage Industry News caught up with Karl Deily, President of Sealed Air Food Care (pictured below) to hear his views.

Karl_Deily-4720

Where and why?

First off, Deily explained that food loss and food waste are two distinct things. The former includes food that is lost during harvesting, while the latter covers waste by the processor, retailer or consumer.

While food loss is still a significant problem in the developing world, Deily explained that it is not as significant in developed economies. “In modern economies around the world most of the food is lost at the retailer and consumer level,” he said. “At the retailer it can be as high as 12 – 15 per cent, with some produce items as high as 30 per cent on a weight basis. When you look at calories wasted, dairy and meat products are significant contributors.”

There are a number of causes for the food waste problem. At the consumer level, much of it comes down to a lack of awareness.

According to Deily, while Australia ranks relatively highly in this regard, globally “most consumers don’t feel that they’re responsible for food waste, or its not high on their agenda but they feel they contribute to it.”

In actual fact, throwing out food has a significant impact.

“If a consumer throws away 2kg of meat they’re not just throwing away the meat. They’re also throwing away over 2,000 litres of water, 1kg of grain, 23kg of CO2 emission that it took to produce the product, process it distribute it and get it to the consumer,” said Deily.

At the retail level, the causes of food waste are more complex. The issue of “ugly produce” or food that does not meet the cosmetic standards of retailers (or consumers) is one important factor. According to Deily, shelf life is another. Too often, supermarkets find themselves having to either mark down prices as products approach their “best by” dates or, worse still, throw away food that has passed this date.

“Everyone is grappling with the difference between best before date, use buy date, sell by date, etc. These can all be very confusing,” said Deily. “They’re based on a statistical model, [whereby] if you have a sell by date and the food is thrown away, 50 per cent of the food you are throwing away is perfectly good because you have to determine an average life for the product.”

He pointed to a proposal to simplify the system by introducing a clear “Expires On” date which would only be used for foods such as meat where food safety can’t be compromised.

Other foods, like yoghurt, would carry only a “Best if used by” date. Consumers would be encouraged to use their discretion (and senses) to work out if such foods are still okay.

Solutions

According to Deily, reducing food waste requires an end-to-end approach.

“We have to have logistics that protect the product through transportation. We have to have technologies that enable the retailer to merchandise the product in a way that minimises waste. Then we have to come up with labelling and information that resonates with the consumer,” he said.

According to Deily, packaging can be part of the solution.

“If you show consumers a cucumer unwrapped then show them one wrapped, they’ll say they want the unpackaged product because plastic has got to be bad for the environment,” he said.

However, what they don’t factor in is the fact that the packaged item lasts two to three times longer than the unpackaged item. Therefore it is more likely to make it to the consumer and less likely to end up as landfill where it will rot and produce methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2).

Deily added that in the case of meat, when the whole supply chain is considered, the carbon foot print of the product may be up to 300-400 times larger than that of its packaging. “So we look at what technologies can we use to extend the life of the product as long as possible,” he said.

Emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will play an important role in reducing food waste.

According to Deily, IoT can help with tracking product, monitoring product temperature, and even with inventory and management control.

“IoT through connectivity and Quick Response (QR) or bar coding can ensure the oldest product is shipped and consumed first. And that there is better coordination between what is sold at retail and what is needed to be produced for replenishment of stock,” he said.

This technology can even help the consumer.

“We’re working on some QSR code technologies through the IoT which will drive an improved engagement with the consumer and the products they buy. This will enable the consumer to better understand how to use it, how to cook it and whether it’s okay to freeze at the end of its shelf-life,” said Deily.

Benefits for businesses

Apart from its humanitarian and environmental costs, food waste makes bad business sense.

“Globally, it’s estimated that 1.2 billion kg of meat is thrown out at retail every year… Businesses are throwing away over US$9b of product that they don’t sell,” said Deily.

The good news is that cost and waste reduction go hand-in-hand.

To illustrate the pointed Deily pointed to a study Sealed Air did for a UK retailer. By changing the package format in just one food category the retailer was able to reduce the amount of food they were throwing away by 350,000kg and provide a new package format that appealed to the consumer. This equated to an increase of value of US$19m from reduced food waste and increased product sales.

“We have data to show that every dollar you invest to minimise food waste there is about a $14 return on investment,” said Deily. “This is why prevention is preferred over strategies that either recycle or recover food that is about to become waste.”

Sealed Air

Deily pointed out that Sealed Air, predominantly a plastic packaging supplier, is judged by some as part of the problem. But he maintains the company is part of the solution.

For example, the company’s award winning Cryovac Darfresh on Tray more than doubles the shelf life of red meat when compared to the standard Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) process. In addition, it produces no film scrap and up to 40 per cent less material waste.

Another product, the Cryovac Freshness Plus film includes components which absorb oxygen before it reaches the product thereby enabling significant shelf life extension of products such as avocado and bakery goods.

Food waste at the manufacturing level can be effectively managed through improved process technology. Deily explained that this is because the sector operates in a closed environment and can therefore ensure that all processes are monitored and controlled.

Pork producers, for example, make it their business to market and merchandise almost every part of the animal. Apart from food for human consumption, they produce animal food and can even make fertiliser through blood recovery techniques.

“A lot of the loss for processors is just losing some of the economic value, so we work a lot with customers on making sure they maintain the highest value of their product by improving the yields and operational efficiency,” said Deily.

For example, Sealed Air has implemented technologies for deboning a turkey breast as thoroughly and efficiently as possible. The company works in processing plants to help in ways that (directly or indirectly) help reduce waste.

Finally, Deily mentioned Sealed Air’s efforts to reduce food waste by smarter portioning. “We look to deliver product that can be portioned in smaller portions, in a manner that is good for the whole value chain.”

Around the world Sealed Air’s new packaging solutions and technologies are being recognised. Closer to home in Australia and New Zealand, Cryovac Darfresh for fresh pork and Cryovac Freshness Plus for fresh avocado won the votes of the judging panel at the 2016 and 2017 ANZ Save Food Packaging Awards. Each solution was able to significantly extend the shelf life, enable wider food distribution and access, all while reducing food waste.

Darfresh On Tray.
Darfresh On Tray.

 

 

Food Collective addressing NZ food waste issue

With supermarkets across New Zealand rising to the food waste challenge, chefs and food service professionals are encouraged to join the Food Collective by donating surplus food, minimising food waste to landfill and understanding how food waste can be better managed in their kitchen.

The partnership between Unilever Food Solutions, KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh, provides the opportunity to raise much needed revenue for the charities, whilst increasing awareness of reducing waste in commercial kitchens and redirecting surplus foods to people in need. For each case of Unilever Food Solutions purchased, 50 cents will be donated to KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh.

“Reducing food waste is one of the big challenges facing the hospitality industry,” said Unilever Food Solutions Business Manager New Zealand, Reece McLaughlan.

“Food has a high carbon ‘footprint’, and so while most people think of only the disposal expenses, the costs are actually much higher. It requires considerable energy to grow, harvest, transport, process, package, retail and prepare food, so wastage has a serious impact on our planet,” he notes.

KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh have delivered over five million meals in need in their community to date.

“Unilever Food Solutions has taken an important step towards addressing these issues with the Food Collective,” said KiwiHarvest CEO and Founder Deborah Manning. “The hospitality industry can show support for our work rescuing food and nourishing communities, by ordering products from the Unilever Food Solutions range. Together we can make a difference.”

The three organisations are also encouraging chefs across all types of foodservice venues to support this simple, yet effective movement to take up leaderships positions on the issue in their industry.

Turning environmental problems into profit

CST Wastewater Solutions will showcase successful waste-to-energy technologies that respond to worldwide trends towards renewables at foodPro 2017 in Sydney from July 16-19.

The GWE anaerobic digestion technologies – to be featured on Stand S9 – extract biogas from virtually any biological waste stream, including municipal food wastes from restaurants, food service facilities, grocery stores, and municipal solid waste, as well as organic wastes from industrial processing facilities, food and beverage plants and agribusinesses.

The environmentally advanced technologies transform waste organic materials and wastewaters from an environmental liability into a profit centre, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mike Bambridge.

One of the technologies, GWE’s RAPTOR (which stands for Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues), is a powerful liquid-state anaerobic digestion process that consists of enhanced pre-treatment followed by multi-step biological fermentation.

RAPTOR is ideally suited to both industrial and municipal applications in Australasia, with one of its most recent installations demonstrating its potential for similar applications here, said Bambridge, whose company distributes the Global Water Engineering RAPTOR technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

GWE anaerobic technology success story

A waste-to-energy project undertaken by the world’s largest integrated pineapple operation, Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI), which has exceeded even the high effluent quality targets originally set for the job.

The Global Water Engineering (GWE) wastewater treatment installation (pictured) at the Cagayan de Oro pineapple canning plant has achieved 93 percent organic pollution (COD) removal in its anaerobic reactors, producing in the process enough green energy (methane rich biogas) to power two 1.4 MW generating electrical power generator units (or gensets).

DMPI – which accounts for about 10 per cent of the world’s annual production of processed pineapple products – will benefit from environmentally clean electricity to replace fossil fuels typically used in electrical power plants.

And the waste heat from the gensets is also put to use to heat up steam boiler feed water, which is a further reduction of fossil fuel use in the factory. Given the high prices of electricity form the Grid and the sometimes erratic supply, the plant will achieve rapid ROI payback, said Bambridge.

“Similar energy supply and price issues exist in Australasia, so the technology is highly relevant here,” he said.

The technology involved in this case study applies not only to pineapple production but also to a wide range of Australian and New Zealand food industries, including livestock and horticultural operations including fruit and vegetables, grain crops and any agribusiness with a biological waste stream.

 

Organic waste to energy projects on show in Sydney

Visitors to Ozwater in Sydney last week had a chance to see CST Wastewater Solutions’ latest waste-to-energy technologies.

Environmentally advanced technologies transform waste organic materials and wastewaters from an environmental liability into a profit centre, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mike Bambridge.

One of the technologies, GWE’s Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues(RAPTOR), is a liquid-state anaerobic digestion process that consists of enhanced pre-treatment followed by multi-step biological fermentation.

RAPTOR is suited to both industrial and municipal applications in Australasia, with one of its most recent installations demonstrating its potential for similar applications here, says Bambridge, whose company distributes the technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

RAPTOR has been used successfully in several projects around the world. One example is an organic-waste-to-energy project in Connecticut USA, which moved into production late last year. It converted up to 40,000 tons of organic waste annually into environmentally green energy and dry bio fertiliser.

CSTozwater17

The plant also avoided the need to dump the waste into landfill, from where organic wastes can seep into water tables of surrounding urban and rural development.

The Quantum Biopower Plant serving the central Connecticut region incorporates its GWE RAPTOR rapid anaerobic digestion system at the heart of its process that harvests mixed organic wastes for conversion into enough biogas (primarily methane) to generate 1.2 MW of electricity and up to 5.6 tons a day of dry bio fertiliser.

Biogas extracted from the refuse replaces fossil and other fuels typically used to generate electricity for the nearby Town of Southington, CT, reducing its environmental footprint and helping the State meet its renewable energy goal of generating 27 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020.

The Southington plant’s biogas production of more than 420,000Nft3 (about 12,000 Nm3 ) a day @62.5 per cent methane (CH4 ) is equivalent to 8000kg a day of fuel oil, or more than 3000 tons of the fossil fuel a year, projected to be worth  over $A10 million in the plant’s first decade of service.

The company responsible for the installation, GW&E (a subsidiary of Global Water Engineering Engineering) has also completed another waste-to-energy plant in Canada and is currently completing another in the Caribbean that converts food waste and a form of grass to energy.

As well as profit and environmental benefits, this technology provides consistent and reliable base load power, which is not always possible with alternative green energy technologies, such as wind and solar. Further expansion of the facility to 80,000 tonnes/yr is planned, with the additional biogas to be converted to renewable natural gas and injected into the local gas pipeline network.

GWE anaerobic technologies have been successfully deployed on diverse organic and agribusiness waste streams produced by industries including food and beverage processing, starch and fermentation industry, pulp & paper and many other type of agro-industry. GWE has successfully built and commissioned scores of biogas utilisation plants for clients worldwide over the past 15 years, while CST Wastewater Technology anaerobic digestion installations in in Australia and New Zealand include meat, dairy, fruit processing and brewery production.

The technologies are also suitable for processing biological waste produced by a wide range of specific user types, including universities, grocery chains, restaurants, food transporters, hospitals, sports arenas, large office complexes, commercial buildings and large residential complexes.

 

 

 

 

Australian researchers find way to stop food mould

West Australian researchers led by Dr. Kirsty Bayliss have discovered how to stop mould growing on fresh food.

Dr. Bayliss will be presenting her technology, titled ‘Breaking the Mould’, a chemical-free treatment for fresh produce that increases shelf-life, prevents mould and decay, and reduces food wastage, in the US.

“Our technology will directly address the global food security challenge by reducing food waste and making more food available for more people,” Dr. Bayliss said.

“The technology is based on the most abundant form of matter in the universe– plasma. Plasma kills the moulds that grow on fruit and vegetables, making fresh produce healthier for consumption and increasing shelf-life.”

Dr. Bayliss’s Murdoch University team has been working on preliminary trials for the past 18 months and are now preparing to start scaling up trials to work with commercial production facilities.

Dr. Bayliss said the LAUNCH Food Innovation Challenge was a “huge opportunity.”

“I will be presenting our research to an audience comprising investors, company directors and CEOs, philanthropists and other influential people from organisations such as Fonterra, Walmart, The Gates Foundation, as well as USAID, DFAT and even Google Food.”

“What is really exciting is the potential linkages and networks that I can develop; already NASA are interested in our work,” she said.

In an interview with ABC Online, she said “Food wastage contributes to a lot of the food insecurity as the US and Europe wastes around 100 kilograms of food per person every year.

“If we could reduce food wastage by a quarter, we could feed 870 million people.”

Dr. Bayliss said the technology also kills bacteria associated with food-borne illness, such as salmonella and listeria.

 

 

Reducing food waste great for companies’ bottom lines

New research on behalf of Champions 12.3 has found that for every dollar companies invested to reduce food loss and waste, they saved $14 in operating costs. The report finds that household savings could be much greater.

In a first-of-its kind analysis, The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste evaluated financial cost and benefit data for 1,200 sites across 700 companies in 17 countries, finding that nearly every site realized a positive return on its investment to reduce food waste. The types of investments companies made include: quantifying and monitoring food loss and waste, training staff on practices to reduce waste, changing food storage and handling processes, changing packaging to extend shelf-life, changing date labels, and other staff and technology investments.

The 14:1 return on investment comes from not buying food that would have been lost or wasted, increasing the share of food that is sold to customers, introducing new product lines made from food that otherwise would have been lost or wasted, reducing waste management costs and other savings.

“A third of the world’s food is wasted – and yet almost a billion people go to bed hungry each night. That simply cannot be right. But even if the moral imperative doesn’t move us, the clear business case should swing people to act. What this research shows is that there’s now no social, environmental or economic reason why we should not come together and take action to reduce food waste,” said Dave Lewis, Group Chief Executive of Tesco and Chair of Champions 12.3.

Government Action Saves Consumers Significant Money

The research also finds that savings for consumers could be enormous. From 2007 to 2012, the United Kingdom ran a nationwide initiative to reduce household food waste. This included consumer education through the “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign via in-store messaging on proper food storage and preparation and use of leftovers; product innovations like re-sealable salad bags, changes to pack size and formats and date labelling; and financing to establish baseline data on food waste and monitor progress on reduction.

During this period, for every £1 the government, companies and the non-profit organization WRAP invested in these efforts to curb household food waste, consumers and local government saved £250. Over the first five years of this initiative, avoidable household food waste was reduced 21 percent. Figures released for 2012-2015 show that progress has stalled, which emphasises the need to regularly evaluate, review and adjust approaches to food waste reduction.

At a time of economic strain for many families, throwing away less food is a valuable way to put money back in people’s pockets. In the UK, the average household with children discards approximately £700 of edible food each year. In the United States, the average family of four wastes roughly $1,500 annually on food that goes into the garbage.

“Our experience suggests that there are two main barriers to food waste reduction: a lack of awareness of the scale of food waste in the business and the home and the business case for change,” said Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP. “This groundbreaking report we wrote with WRI shows there is a clear business case for tackling food waste for businesses, municipalities and governments. Given this analysis, our message is simple; target, measure and act.  Above all act.  It makes sense socially, environmentally and above all economically.”

City Investments in Curbing Food Waste Pay Off

In 2012, six London boroughs piloted a local-level Love Food Hate Waste campaign led by WRAP, ultimately saving local authorities £8 in avoided waste disposal costs for every £1 invested, and an average of £84 for households participating. After just six months, households had reduced their waste by 15 percent. London’s experience indicates great potential for other cities to save money and food by taking action to reduce food loss and waste. Other cities that are starting to tackle food waste, starting with measuring the problem, include Denver, Nashville, New York, and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

“The success we saw in the United Kingdom proves that it’s possible to make real inroads in reducing food waste,” said Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute and the new Chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board. “The challenge now is to get every country, major city and company to realise that reducing food loss and waste is a win-win. There are far too many tough, intractable problems in the world – food loss and waste doesn’t have to be one of them.”

In the study, government and business leaders also noted other reasons they find reducing food loss and waste beneficial, including better relationships with customers and suppliers, increasing food security, adhering to waste regulations, upholding a sense of ethical responsibility and promoting environmental sustainability. Since food loss and waste is responsible for an estimated 8 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions, tackling this challenge can help lower emissions and meet commitments to the Paris Agreement.

The report recommends leaders take a “target, measure, act” approach to reduce the amount of food lost and wasted. First, every government and company should set a target to halve food loss and waste, in line with Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Second, governments and companies need to start measuring food loss and waste so they can identify hotspots and monitor progress over time. The recently launched Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard can help them do this. Third, leaders need to act, implementing programs and practices for reducing food loss and waste.

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