Thursday, 29 September 2022

New food waste initiative to help millions of food insecure Australians

 Australian businesses and the Australian government can help strengthen food rescue, help feed food insecure Australians, and minimise the environmental impacts of food waste, latest Sector Action Plan from Stop Food Waste Australia outlines. 

Food rescue plays a critical role in Australia meeting its stated target of halving food waste by 2030 while also helping address the growing need for food relief. In 2021, Australia’s food rescue sector redirected or repurposed more than 80 million kilograms of good-quality food and redistributed it as meals for millions of food insecure Australians. 

fruit and vegetable clip art

The Food Rescue Sector Action Plan has been co-designed and developed with Australia’s four biggest food rescue charities – Foodbank, OzHarvest, SecondBite and FareShare. The Plan outlines key interventions in research, policy, business collaboration and education that will help support and strengthen food rescue, reduce food waste across the supply chain and assist food insecure Australians. 

The Sector Action Plan aims to increase surplus food captured for redistribution, highlighting key initiatives for both the food rescue sector and policy-makers, primary producers, manufacturers, retailers, transport and logistics organisations and other associated parties, including: 

  • Improving tax incentives to encourage donations of surplus food and essential services to the food rescue sector. 
  • Establish a collaborative steering group within the sector to discuss and prioritise actions and develop a workable plan for the sector to implement. 
  • Enhance research initiatives to improve collective understanding of the sector and current food rescue models and systems, and investigate alternative models of food rescue and distribution of surplus food. 
  • Partner with the Australian Food Pact Signatories – comprising some of Australia’s biggest food businesses – to embed food donation into business practices and food waste reduction targets. 



Stop Food Waste Australia Chief Executive Officer Dr Steven Lapidge says the value of Australia’s food rescue sector cannot be understated. 

“Food rescue is a unique approach to reducing food waste because it also has the fundamental co-benefit of reducing food insecurity,” Dr Lapidge says. 

foodbank Hamper packages

Australians continue to waste more than 7.6 million tonnes of food every year – 70% of which is edible. At the same time, one in six Australian adults haven’t had enough to eat in the last year, and 1.2 million Australian children have gone hungry.

Stop Food Waste Australia Chief Operating Officer Mark Barthel says the Sector Action Plan offers a path for increasing the amount of food redistributed to vulnerable Australians and diverted from landfill – contributing to Australia’s target of halving food waste by 2030. 

“The Food Rescue Sector Action Plan highlights the importance of collaboration with and between the biggest food rescue charities, the government and business partners to ensure good-quality surplus food is donated to the people who need it and not wasted. 

a hand receiving fruits

 “Food rescue is such an important sector for us and the progress we’ve made as part of developing the Plan in a few short years has been truly impressive and driven by a group of very passionate people with a strong sense of purpose. 

“We are also working with a growing number of food businesses, like signatories to the Australian Food Pact, to prevent food from being wasted and to maximise the potential for any surplus food that does exist to be donated to the food rescue sector, through partnerships that are in place and strong.” 

Sarah Pennell, General Manager of Business at Foodbank Australia and member of the Food Rescue Sector Action Plan Steering Committee says,

This work will have a positive impact on the lives of millions of Australians who are currently food insecure. It will have a similarly positive impact on helping to reduce this country’s food waste.

For the food rescue sector itself, having Stop Food Waste Australia bring us together to work on this has been game changing.

The release of the Food Rescue Sector Action Plan aligns with the United Nations’ International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (Thursday, September 29). Stop Food Waste Australia is proudly working towards the UN Sustainability Goal 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030 and acknowledges that this cannot be achieved without the support and commitment of its partners. 

The Food Rescue Sector Action Plan is the second in a series of sector plans developed by Stop Food Waste Australia, following the Food Cold Chain Sector Action Plan released in July 2022. Sector Action Plans provide targeted insights and interventions for food waste ‘hotspots’. The plans are co-designed to address food waste in collaboration with those most able to affect direct change and tackle the root cause(s) of food waste and to support action to reduce food waste in the value chain. 

For more information on the Food Rescue Sector Action Plan: