International specialist to help fight food waste

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has partnered with Woolworths and Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) to bring international sustainable food systems specialist Mark Barthel to Australia.

Mark Barthel has 25 years of experience fighting food waste with brands such as Tesco, Amazon, Walmart, Marks & Spencer and Nestle, and international organisations such as WRAP, the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the FAO.

“It is an exciting time to be working with Woolworths, CRC and FIAL to develop a food waste reduction roadmap,” Mr Barthel said.

“Although only three per cent of national food waste is attributed to supermarkets, they still have a critical role to play in engaging with their customers about how they can make the most of the food they buy.”

Mr Barthel said Woolworths was at the forefront in educating customers to minimising food waste via their Food Savers program.

“They have also made commitments themselves, with 100 per cent of their stores now having a food waste diversion program in place,” Mr Barthel said.

“I am excited to be working closely with Woolworths to develop a roadmap that will see them engaging with suppliers, customers and community partners to work together to tackle this issue.”

According to the Australian National Food Waste Baseline report, 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted each year, half of which ends up in landfill.

“Preventing food waste entering landfill in Australia would be the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road in terms of its environmental impact,” Mr Barthel said.

“There is a huge role for businesses to play in reducing food waste along the supply chain, and in addition to working on a roadmap for Woolworths, I’m also going to be working with FIAL to establish a voluntary agreement program with Australian businesses as part of the National Food Waste Strategy.”

FIAL Managing Director Mirjana Prica said the organisation was thrilled to have Mr Barthel working on the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy.

“His experience in setting up the UK’s Cortauld Agreement, and understanding of sustainable food systems, will provide invaluable insights that will help shape Australia’s efforts to reduce food waste,” Ms Prica said.

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Registrations launched for Waste Expo Australia

The future of waste management and resource recovery is high on the agenda at all levels of government as Australia’s largest and most comprehensive conference and exhibition, Waste Expo Australia launches registrations.

Hosting more than 120 brands and over 100 speakers across three conference stages, Waste Expo Australia will return to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 23 and 24.

Waste Expo Australia will offer free-to-attend conference content across the Waste and Wastewater Summits, attracting the largest gathering of waste management and resource professionals in Australia.

The Waste Summit Conference brought to you by Oceania Clean Energy Solutions will cover six targeted streams from resource recovery, waste-to-energy, collections, landfill and transfer stations, construction and demolition waste as well as commercial and industrial waste.

Key speakers will include Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson and Acting Executive Director for Waste Strategy and Policy at the NSW EPA Kar Mel Tang.

Other national and state-based bodies will be represented, along with case study presentations from local governments including Campaspe Shire Council, City of Holdfast Bay, Yarra City Council and Albury City Council.

Leading off day one of the Waste Summit, a panel will discuss the pressing issues surrounding Australia’s waste-to-energy (WtE) sector.

One of the panel members, Director of Enhar Consulting Demian Natakhan, will discuss the status of landfill solar generation and propose that the final resting place for municipal waste may be the beginning of new energy generation.

“Solar farming on former landfill sites offers a way to put otherwise unproductive land to a valuable use,” Mr Natakhan suggested.

“Where landfill gas is already collected in sufficient quantities to firepower generation, solar can be added onto existing grid infrastructure. In sites with lower landfill gas volumes, new solar generation with grid upgrades can unlock significant solar generation, avoiding the competition between solar farming and productive agricultural or industrial land.”

Confronting the challenges and opportunities in wastewater treatment will also be tackled at the Wastewater Summit brought to you by EnviroConcepts.

Waste Expo Australia Event Director Cory McCarrick said the event continues to grow with more speakers and suppliers on board this year than ever before.

“We have seen an increase in the total number of exhibitors this year to 120 and around 50 of these are exhibiting for the first time at Waste Expo Australia,” Mr McCarrick said.

Key exhibitors this year include Bost Group, Cleanaway, Caterpillar, HSR Southern Cross, Tricon Equipment, Applied Machinery and Hitachi.

“Add to this list our impressive line-up of speakers, there is no other waste event in Australia that gives you access to such thought-provoking content that address the major issues facing the industry coupled with the opportunities to be immersed among the key players and products for free,” Mr McCarrick said.

Waste Expo Australia is co-location with All-Energy Australia, Energy Efficiency Expo and ISSA Cleaning and Hygiene Expo — forming a significant showcase for the waste, recycling, wastewater, renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaning industries.

Across the two days attendees will have access to industry speakers and suppliers across waste management, wastewater treatment, energy generation, energy efficiency and cleaning and hygiene.

Registration gives you access to all four events on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 October 2019.

To register visit www.wasteexpoaustralia.com.au

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Trevor Evans highlights industry-led initiatives

Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans has highlighted the importance of industry-led initiatives to reduce waste and improve recycling.

Mr Evans made the statements at the launch of a coffee cup recycling program in Brisbane.

“Simply Cups is Australia’s largest cup recycling program, and it is wonderful to have this innovative recycling program now operating at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane,” Mr Evans said.

According to Mr Evans, Howard Smith Wharves has invested heavily in equipment to recover recyclables on site – including rapid food waste composters, glass crushers, cardboard balers, soft plastic recycling and now coffee cup recycling.

“I was delighted to see first-hand the innovative partnership Howard Smith Wharves has with Closed Loop to better manage waste from the site,” Mr Evans said.

“Up to 400 kilograms a day of food waste is being processed in this way, with plans to double that capacity soon when more restaurants open. This is a fantastic example of industry taking practical environmental action on recycling.”

Mr Evans said the government is making substantial investment in recycling to move towards a more circular economy.

“We will be working closely with industry, communities and state, territory and local governments to achieve needed changes and focus on practical, meaningful actions that protect the environment and build our domestic recycling industry,” Mr Evans said.

“At the heart of the government’s strategy is the Australian Recycling Investment Plan, a package of initiatives totalling $167 million designed to grow and strengthen Australia’s domestic recycling industry, and to support industry and community initiatives to lift recycling rates in Australia.”

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Woolworths diverts food waste

In an effort to tackle the $20 billion Australian food waste problem, Woolworths have implemented active food waste diversion programs in 100 per cent of its supermarkets.

Woolworths Head of Sustainability Adrian Cullen said the company have recorded an eight per cent year-on-year reduction in food waste sent to land over the past three years.

“Food is meant to be eaten, not thrown – which is why together with our customers, our farmers and our community partners, we’re working to keep good food out of landfill,” Mr Cullen said.

According to Mr Cullen, Woolworths last year diverted over 55,000 tonnes of food and enabled over 10 million meals to be delivered to Australians in need across the country.

“Working with our partners OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed Australian’s who would otherwise go hungry is our number one priority when it comes to diverting food from our stores,” Mr Cullen said.

“We then work with local farmers so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as stock feed for animals or for on-farm composting. This helps us further reduce and re-purpose bakery and produce waste.”

Mr Cullen said over 750 farmers and community groups have joined the Woolworths Stock Feed for Farmers program.

“Last year Australian farmers received more than 32,000 tonnes of surplus food from Woolworths that was no longer fit for human consumption.”

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Fight Food Waste Research Centre launches new program

A new research program launched by The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre will investigate the transformation of food waste into valuable products.

Fight Food Waste Centre Chief Executive Officer Steve Lapidge said the Transform program will improve the Australian food industry’s competitiveness, productivity and sustainability.

“Dr Paul Luckman will lead a national program to transform food waste into valuable products – we have 46 industry partners and 10 research partners from across the country, with a total of $121 million being invested over 10 years,” Dr Lapidge said.

“We are working to deliver new sources of revenue and market growth for food companies, with less waste ending up in landfill and more food donated to feed hungry Australians.”

Lead researcher Paul Luckman said 42 per cent of food produced in Australia is wasted – at an annual cost of $20 billion.

“The Transform program aims to identify and prioritise valuable products from waste streams and find the technology gaps and process limitations in transforming that waste,” Dr Luckman said.

“We’re already looking at a wide range of projects, from turning food waste into supplements to fuelling sustainable wastewater treatment with food waste.”

Dr Luckman said the program is expected to save 87 gigalitres of water via recovery and reuse, reduce food waste by 30 million tonnes and save 44 million tonnes of greenhouse gas.

According to Dr Luckman the program will also create 5200 jobs in rural areas and save $600 million in waste produce and waste-handling costs.

The Fight Food Waste centre has been allocated funding through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s CRC Program until 2028.

The program is hosted by The University of Queensland’s Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

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Climate change impact: MRA Consulting

MRA’s Mike Ritchie speaks to Waste Management Review about the waste sector’s contribution to national emissions and its role in meeting Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.  

Read moreClimate change impact: MRA Consulting

Woolworths working with start-up to tackle food waste

Woolworths is working with independent start-up Escavox, a business tasked with extending the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables in retail outlets by tracking and monitoring produce from the farm to the supermarket, according to an Australian Financial Review report.

Escavox was started last year with a plan to track each pallet of fruit and vegetables and measure temperature, time and location.

John Dahlsen, former chairman of Woolworths has joined the start-up led by CEO Luke Wood.

Temperature controls and specialised packaging are common measures to prevent product losses in the supply chain.

According to Escavox’s website, production and supply chain data needs to be automatically collected and impartially managed if it is to be trusted and acted on.

It points out that siloed operators, inconsistent visibility in each leg of the chain, limited incentives to collaborate and multiple points of handover has led to no aggregated data and no person or party able to see or understand the complete supply chain.

This makes it difficult to assign product accountability and prevent liability from those who own the product even if that cause is not within their control.

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Australians throw away $8.9 billion in food annually

The Rabobank Food Waste Report shows Australians are wasting a collective $8.9 billion on food waste, a seven per cent reduction from $9.6 billion in 2017.

The report shows more than a third of all food produced globally is never consumed as it is either spoiled in transit or thrown out by consumers.

This results in one third of the world’s agricultural land being used to produce food that is subsequently not eaten.

Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said while the report shows changing attitudes towards food waste, the $890 waste bill per household illustrates more needs to be done.

“While is it pleasing that Australian consumers are wasting less food compared to 12 months ago, there is clearly much to do to raise awareness about food production and waste – while improving the finances of all Australians,” Mr Wealands said.

The report shows food delivery services are having a negative effect on food waste, with those who use food delivery services wasting 6.8 per cent more food than those who don’t.

According to Mr Wealands, the main culprit is food going off before it can be finished at 75 per cent, while 45 per cent of Australian’s are simply buying too much at the grocery store.

Mr Wealands said despite this, many Australians are actively embracing better habits at home including 50 per cent who use a shopping list when buying groceries, 38 per cent who eat leftovers, 36 per cent who plan meals in advance and 30 per cent who freeze food.

“As our population increases we will struggle to feed additional mouths. If we don’t curb our waste, we could run out by 2050,” Mr Wealands said.

While the reduction in food waste is a global responsibility, we all – as individual consumers – can play a significant role in sustaining this planet for generations to come.”

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