The Federal Government has launched its National Food Waste Strategy at the inaugural National Food Waste Summit in Melbourne.
The strategy provides a framework to support the government’s goal of halving Australia’s food waste by 2030.
The National Food Waste Strategy identifies four priority areas to help reach this target: including policy support, business improvements, market development and behaviour change.
The federal government has made an initial funding commitment of $1.37 million over 24 months towards this goal. The funding will be used to support an independent organisation (Food Innovation Australia Limited) that will develop an implementation plan. It will also be used to monitor and evaluate the strategy and coordinate priority areas of work.
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The funding will go towards a voluntary commitment program that will initially engage businesses and industries to commit to actions that reduce food waste and a National Food Waste Baseline so that the government can monitor and track its progress.
Data collated for the report shows the cost of food waste to the Australian economy is $20 billion per year.
Of the food waste disposed in landfill in 2014-15, 7.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent is estimated to be released over the life of its decay.
The Federal Government, with the states and territories, will enable Food Innovation Australia Limited, through $1 million over the next 24 months, to start implementing the strategy. A steering committee will provide advice and guidance to Food Innovation Australia Limited. Membership of the committee will be announced in the coming months and will align with the priority areas of the strategy.
By late 2018, Food Innovation Australia Limited will deliver the plan for the strategy that sets out short, medium and long-term actions. The industry voluntary commitment program will be in place by early 2019.
The Federal Government has also committed a further $370,000 through its National Environment Science Program for two research projects to support the strategy. Of this, $200,000 will support research to establish the National Food Waste Baseline and develop an approach for the measurement of progress against the 50 per cent reduction target. The remaining $170,000 will identify the highest value return on investment opportunities in food waste for business, community organisations and governments.
Ways to support a consistent national approach to community education on food waste will also be on the agenda of the upcoming Meeting of Environment Ministers in December.
Commenting on the announcement, the Victorian Government noted it is working with businesses to manage food waste across the supply chain and find new ways to use food and organic waste products.
A roundtable hosted by Minister D’Ambrosio earlier this year attracted major food producers and processing companies including Swisse, SPC Ardmona and Devondale Murray Goulburn.
The Victorian Government is also helping businesses develop new markets for high quality organic products and boost the uptake of recycled organic products in agriculture.