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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National Food Waste Baseline report released

The Federal Government has announced the key findings of Australia’s National Food Waste Baseline report.

Last year, the Federal Government appointed a steering committee to support the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy, which has a goal to halve the nation’s food waste by 2030.

The Food Waste Steering Committee provided guidance and advice to Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) as it developed plan in 2018 that clearly sets out the actions to be taken to reduce Australia’s food waste over the short, medium and long term.

A National Food Waste Baseline was developed in order to measure and monitor progress towards the food waste reduction goal.

In a statement, Environment Minister Melissa Price said that findings from the National Food Waste Baseline report will be used to develop measurable baselines, food waste datasets and targeted strategies to meet the target.

The National Food Waste Baseline report shows Australia generated 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the food supply and consumption chain in 2016-17, the equivalent of 298 kilograms per person.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, shows that while Australia recycled 1.2 million tonnes of total food waste and recovered 2.9 million tonnes through alternative uses, it still disposed of 3.2 million tonnes over the period.

Consulting with industry organisations, the report found 2.5 million tonnes (34 per cent) of food waste was generated by households, 2.3 million tonnes (31 per cent) by primary production and agricultural pursuits and 1.8 million tonnes (25 per cent) by the manufacturing sector.

Sugarcane fibre (bagasse) was excluded from the baseline as the report identifies it as already well utilised, with mill-generated bagasse primarily combusted to generate on-site power.

Ms Price said targeted research and the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy by Food Innovation Australia will strengthen the rigour of the governments food waste datasets and its capacity to further reduce food waste.

Findings were released by the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre in Adelaide with a full report to be published on the Federal Government website in the coming weeks.

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Perth anaerobic digestion project wins bioenergy award

A project that converts food waste to energy has won an award at the Bioenergy Innovation Awards dinner in Queensland.

Four bioenergy projects and the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk were awarded top honours at the awards night, which showcases Australia’s bio-based alternatives for heat, power, and liquid fuels.

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Perth based Biogas Renewables has commissioned a plant that will take between 35,000 and 50,000 tonnes of food waste per year and is capable of producing between 2.4 to 2.6 megawatts of energy.

The company was awarded the Large Scale Bioenergy Innovation Award for the project, with Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie saying the application of anaerobic digestion is a major advancement of the Australian market.

Biotechnology company Microbiogen was awarded a commendation for its development and launch of a superior biocatalyst for the global bio-ethanol industry.

Ms Palaszczuk was awarded the Government Leadership Award for the Queensland Government’s 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan to support the growth of the state’s bio-economy. The plan identifies 15 current projects which represents a potential investment of around 41.4 billion and the creation of 2500 new jobs in rural and regional communities.

“The integrated approach is paving the way for Australia to develop a sustainable, export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2026,” Ms McKenzie said.

“The plan shows a pathway which recognises Queensland’s mix of natural resources, skilled workforces, world-class research and development and supporting supply chain industries.”

The research Leadership Award was presented to the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment platform, which is a collaboration of states, industry and universities to enable better links between biomass suppliers and end users.

Victorian Pyrenees Shire Council won the Community Leadership Award for its large-scale project which focused on converting straw and straw pellets to energy.

Ms McKenzie said the awards are recognition for the breadth and scope of the bioenergy work being undertaken across Australia.

“Bioenergy is the subject of considerable interest and investment world-wide, due to its enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and drive a more sustainable energy future,” she said.

Full list of winners:

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – LARGE SCALE
Winner: Biogass Renewables Pty Ltd, the Richgro Anaerobic Digestion Project
Commendation: Microbiogen Pty Ltd, the Development and Launch of World’s First Superior Biocatalyst for Global Bio-Ethanol Industry

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – SMALL SCALE
Winner: Dragon NRG Pty Ltd, the Meredith Dairy Bioenergy Project Commendation: ReNu Energy Limited, Goulburn Bioenergy Project

BIOENERGY COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Pyrenees Shire, the Pyrenees Straw Project
Commendation: CLEAN Cowra, Goulburn Bioenergy Project, CLEAN Cowra BioEnergy Hub Commendation: Mt Alexander Sustainability Group, Integrated Community Bioenergy from Waste project

BIOENERGY CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Commendation: MSM Milling, MSM Milling Biomass Fuel Switch Project

AWARD – BIOENERGY RESEARCH LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment
Commendation: Queensland University of Technology Industrial Biotechnology, Bioproducts and Biorefining Team, Achieving bio-economy impact through industry focused research

BIOENERGY GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP

Consortium to harness value from agricultural waste

A new $10.9 million research consortium is set to increase the value of agricultural waste by turning it into new products, led by the University of Adelaide.

A total of 18 partners will come together to develop high-value products from agricultural waste, including nine South Australian based companies from the agriculture and food sector alongside nine national and international academic institutions and industry partners.

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The Agricultural Product Development Research Consortium has been granted $4 million over four years by the South Australian Government, with the University of Adelaide contributing $2.3 million, with the remaining support coming from partners.

Biomolecules that can be derived from crop waste show potential anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer or gut health properties. Other uses include providing mechanical strength or texturizing properties in food, structural materials, lubricants and cosmetics.

Waste from apples, cherries and mushrooms could be used in skin care products thanks to their biological makeup while waste from broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts or cabbage could have potential benefits for diabetic patients.

Research Consortium Lead Investigator and Director of Adelaide Glycomics Professor Vincent Bulone said Agriculture is a key contributor to SA’s economy which has a potential to generate high value products and create post-farm gate industries.

“Our agricultural and horticultural industries generate abundant waste biomass, which is currently disposed of at a cost to the producer, or only a low return. But there are compounds we can derive from this waste – a range of different ‘biomolecules’ – that have high-value potential applications for their structural or health properties,” he said.

Some consortium partners include CSIRO, University of South Australia, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Coopers Brewery, Carlsberg Group (Denmark), Raw Nation Wholefoods, Vanquish Technologies and Ingredion Inc (USA).

SA Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni said South Australia’s agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the growth of the state’s economy.

“The outcomes from this major research consortia that includes local, national and international research institutions along with industry partners, will contribute to the creation of new post-farmgate industries through the development and commercialisation of value-added products from agricultural waste,” he said.