AUSTRALIAN FOOD WASTE: THE FACTS

Here in Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted every year. And while a large proportion of this food is still perfectly edible, around 5 million Australians are going hungry.

 

On a global scale, around one third of the food that is produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. And if just 25% of the world’s food loss and waste could be saved, it would be enough to feed the 821 million people that are currently going hungry around the world.

To put it simply, there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone. Fighting food waste plays a big role in fighting hunger and everyone has a part to play; from production, right through to the way that we as consumers choose to shop, love ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables, and understand food labels. In the wise words of Sir David Attenborough:

“And the one thing we can all do is to stop waste. Don’t waste food. Don’t waste power. They are precious, and we can’t live without them.”

Food Waste in Australia

  • On average, we Australians throw one in five shopping bags of food in the bin – that’s about $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year.
  • Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person!
  • The average Australian household is sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week.
  • In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year – that’ enough to fill 13,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Up to 25% of all vegetables produced never leave the farm.
  • Food waste costs Australian farmers $2.84 billion annually.

Food is wasted in many ways

  • Food waste includes all food intended for human consumption that never reaches us, as well as edible food that consumers throw away.
  • Perfectly edible fresh produce is often turned away from supermarket shelves because it does not meet the optimal criteria for consumers, such as shape, size and colour.
  • Foods that are close to, at or beyond the “best-before” date are often discarded by retailers and consumers – even though they are still within their “use-by” date.
  • Large quantities of wholesome edible food are often unused or left over and discarded from household kitchens.

Food Waste in Melbourne

  • 207 kilograms of waste is generated per person per year.
  • 40% of Melbourne’s food waste comes from our households, cafes and restaurants.
  • The most common causes of household food waste is produce left too long in the fridge or freezer, followed by people not finishing their meals.
  • Producing this wasted food uses 3.6 million hectares of land, 180 gigalitres of water, and generates 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Food Waste in Victoria

  • Each year, Victorian households throw away 250,000 tonnes of food – enough to fill Melbourne’s Eureka Tower.
  • 65% of the food that is wasted in Victorian households could have been eaten.
  • On average, each Victorian household throws away $2,136 in food waste each year – that’s $42 a week in food waste!
  • Up to 50% of our garbage is food and garden waste.
  • Victoria wastes more food than any other state or territory in Australia.

Global food waste & hunger

  • One-third of all food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes) is being lost or wasted, whilst one in nine people (690 million) go hungry.
  • The FAO estimates that in 2019, 2 billion people across the globe did not have access to safe, nutritious or sufficient food, while 750 million people were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.
  • If food waste were a country, it would the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, following USA and China.
  • In fact, global food waste is responsible for approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In developing countries 40% of food loss occurs at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialised countries more than 40% of food loss happens at retail and consumer levels.
  • Global food loss and waste costs the global economy $990 billion each year.
  • There is enough food on the planet for every single person, yet 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry every night.

Reducing food waste

  • Reducing food loss and waste is critical to creating a Zero Hunger world and reaching the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • In November 2017, the Australian Government launched a National Food Waste Strategy at the National Food Waste Summit in Melbourne. The strategy provides a framework to support collective action towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030, and aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 on food loss and waste.
  • Here at Foodbank, we play a vitally important role in tackling Australia’s $20 billion food waste problem.
  • We work with farmers and growers, right through to retailers, to rescue and redistribute perfectly edible food to Victorians in need.
  • Last year, Foodbank redirected or re-purposed 37 million kilograms of food and groceries that would otherwise end up in landfill, helping us save more than 81 million kilograms of CO2 emissions every year.

These statistics just go to underline the gravity of this issue, and to begin resolving it we need your help. Click here to read more about how Foodbank is fighting food waste in Australia.

Help your fellow Australians in need – every $1 helps.