New app links cafes and charities to fight food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities is aiming to reduce food waste by donating excess food.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have trialled the ReFood app in Perth council City of Swan to connect local restaurants and cafes with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute excess food to those in need.

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The app fills a gap in the market for smaller businesses to give away food and divert it from landfill.

The app was developed by ECU PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska 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,” Ms 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.”

Ms Stojanoska said she was currently analysing data collecting in the pilot of the app to continue the rollout across Perth.

Waste Authority WA 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.

Owner of the Crooked Spire Coffee House café Mike Matich said the best thing about the 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.”

City of Swan saves $400,000 on recycling

The City of Swan has announced it is on course to save up to $400,000 after implementing a new recycling strategy.

Bullsbrook Recycling Centre (BRC) was opened by the council to reduce illegal dumping and make recycling more accessible.

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After opening in July of 2017, the BRC has demonstrated exceptional savings according to the City of Swan.

The latest figures have shown that illegal dumping has been reduced by nine per cent and has provided $205,747 in savings to date, with an estimate to save $400,000 annually. The city also reported that it is estimated to save 2281 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

It also saves money by avoiding waste levies, based on the amount of waste that would normally end up in landfill. The City of Swan said the landfill levy savings in the first eight months of operation amounted to $196,592.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said the Centre offers significant cost savings and makes a major contribution towards protecting the environment.

“The BRC has performed exceptionally well since it opened,” he said.

“I’m delighted that we’re reaping the rewards of our investment. Cost savings and revenue generated will be reinvested to improve services across the city.”

Recyclable goods can be dropped off at the center for free, which the City of Swan says reduces the need for further investment in additional staff and equipment.

Additional revenue is earned from disposal charges on specific items like tyres and the resale of scrap metal.

Pearce Ward Councillor Kevin Bailey said the recycling strategy encourages active participation from residents.

City of Swan recognised for waste management

The City of Swan in WA has been recognised for its efficient delivery of waste management and other essential services.

A major survey of local governments has found the City of Swan’s waste management cost per resident was less than the WA and national average.

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Residents living in the area were also fond to dump 14 per cent less rubbish than the average council in WA.

Data was collected from 133 participating councils throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The results were published in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program 2017 by PwC Australia and Local Government Professionals NSW.

The survey found the cost per tonne of actual waste collected per 10,000 residents $265, nearly 32% below the average rate of $389.

The City of Swan has been identifying ways in which it can reduce waste, and has diverted more than 180 mattresses from landfill, and operates its own waste collection service using shared resources, labour and plant between the various waste services.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said he is proud of the city’s performance.

“Waste management has become a global issue and I’m really pleased with how the city performed in this major survey,” he said.

“We will continue our efforts to improve this service and encourage responsible waste management and recycling throughout the city.”

Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward Councillor Rod Henderson congratulated residents on their role in contributing to the city’s performance in the survey.

“The city collected less waste compared to other WA councils and credit must go to residents for their role in achieving this.”