The Federal Government has unveiled a new $4 million body with the sole focus of reducing Australia’s food waste – a critical step towards its target of halving the millions of tonnes of food that ends up in landfill every year by 2030.
Last year, Magnum was the first ice cream brand to use recycled polypropylene plastic in its packaging and now its rolling out over 7 million new tubs and lids for its pints range.
Animals at Sydney Zoo will soon be feeding on surplus fresh food rescued from Woolworths, after the zoo joined Woolworth’s Stock Feed for Farmers program.
According to a Woolworths statement, Sydney Zoo joins over 750 farmers and community groups that access surplus fresh food from the supermarket.
“Last year more than 32,000 tonnes of surplus food no longer suitable for sale or human consumption went to feed animals both on farms and in zoos,” the statement reads.
Woolworths Head of Sustainability Adrian Cullen said Woolworths first diversion priority is working with OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed people that would otherwise go hungry.
“We then work with local farmers and the likes of Sydney Zoo, so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as feed for animals or for on-farm composting, to help further reduce any food waste,” he said.
Sydney Zoo Managing Director Jake Burgess said Woolworths’ support will allow the zoo to reallocate funds from food to conservation and education work.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council is expanding its kerbside collection to include food organics, after receiving $182,000 in funding from the state government.
According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the project, worth over $460,000, has the potential to divert an estimated 4864 tonnes of organic material from landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8241 tonnes.
“This will support Macedon Ranges Shire Council to better divert food and organic waste from landfill, including providing infrastructure to residents such as kitchen caddies, liners and kerbside bins,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“It’s crucial we continue to support projects like these across regional Victoria – they boost jobs, divert more waste from landfill and reduce emissions.”
Managed by statutory authority Sustainability Victoria, the funding comes from the state government’s $26 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which aims to support infrastructure investment to improve collection and reprocessing.
Previous recipients include the City of Greater Geelong to develop laneway recycling for retail and hospitality outlets, Advanced Circular Polymers to assist the development of Australia’s largest plastic recycling facility and Ararat Rural City Council to consolidate three existing rural facilities.
Australians spent a total of $10.1 billion on food that went to waste in 2019, up from $8.9 billion in 2018.
The Rabobank Food Waste Report, released 26 November, shows Australian are now wasting an average of 13 per cent of their weekly grocery spend, equating to $1026 each year.
Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said food waste is one of the most significant challenges facing Australia.
“According to the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Australia is the fourth highest food waster in the world,” Mr Wealands said.
“Given the increasing pressure on the planet to provide for a growing population, there is an urgent need for greater action across governments, industry, retailers, and consumers to drive real change.”
According to the report, consumers are the biggest offenders, with household waste making up 34 per cent of food waste nationally.
Primary production represents 31 per cent, with manufacturing contributing 25 per cent.
Mr Wealands said every individual has a role to play in minimising food waste.
“We know from this research that more than three quarters of us care about reducing food waste and are annoyed by it,” Mr Wealands said.
“However, it is alarming that less than three out of 10 of us recognise the impact our food waste has on the environment.”
Wastech Engineering’s Jeff Goodwin explains how the ATRITOR Turbo Separator can help businesses achieve a food waste recovery rate of 99 per cent.
Growing populations and an associated increase in food consumption is accelerating the organic waste problem in Australia and around the world.
As reported by Waste Management Review in June, many Australian businesses are hesitant to engage in the source separation of food waste.
This is due to a limited number of recycling facilities able to process the recovered organics, together with concerns around the ability to recycle packaging.
With the National Packaging Targets are squarely on the waste industry’s agenda, the ability to effectively separate recyclable packaging from its contents is therefore equally important.
Jeff Goodwin, Wastech Engineering’s National Product Manager Projects, says growing issues around food waste generation, paired with rising landfill restrictions and capacity levels, was the driving factor behind a recent addition to Wastech’s product portfolio.
“Working with UK manufacturer ATRITOR, Wastech has added a range of turbo separators for food de-packaging to our product roster,” Jeff says.
“As the exclusive Australian representative for ATRITOR, Wastech can provide customers with a solution offering a typical food waste recovery rate of 99 per cent for both dry and liquid products.”
Jeff says the high recovery rate makes the Turbo Separator ideally suited for use in product destruction units.
The Turbo Separator range comprises four models designed and engineered to efficiently remove a wide range of products from their packaging.
“Wastech’s distribution range includes the TS1260, TS2096, TS3096 and TS42120 models, with a material dependant separation rate ranging from 600 kilograms an hour to 20,000 kilograms an hour,” Jeff says.
According to Jeff, the equipment ideal for separating out-of-date, out-of-specification or mislabelled products.
“Historically, expired and mislabelled food products were consigned to landfill due to the difficulty of extracting organics from packaging,” Jeff says.
“With the ATRITOR Turbo Separator we can begin shifting that practice.”
Jeff says the Turbo Separator is sufficiently flexible and can de-package a range of products and packaging materials including supermarket waste, tin cans, polymer bottles and soft packaging.
“Additionally, the Turbo Separator is equally at home separating gypsum from the backing paper in plasterboard,” Jeff says.
“The recovered gypsum can be used in agriculture or re-used in plasterboard manufacturing, while the recovered paper can be further recycled.”
Jeff says the Turbo Separator also works for blister packs, sachets, pouches, paper bags, aluminium cans, plastic bottles, plastic drums and TetraPak.
“The only unsuitable application is glass containers or bottles, as the glass shatters and the shards will contaminate the organics,” he explains.
The Turbo Separator combines centrifugal forces, self-generated airflow and mechanical processes to remove organic material from packaging.
Jeff says this allows the recovered materials to be recycled or disposed of correctly.
Packaged materials are fed by an infeed conveyor into the separation chamber, where a number of rotating paddles open up the packaging.
The force of the paddles then creates a squeezing effect, which separates packaging from its contents without destroying the packaging.
Depending on the material, the recovered organics can then be used for animal feed, nutrient-rich compost or anaerobic digestion.
Wastech can supply the Turbo Separator as a complete package, with an infeed hopper and conveyor, separation chamber and outfeed conveyors.
The separator is also delivered with a maintenance access platform and control cabinet.
“The Turbo Separator’s rugged and durable construction, coupled with high product separation rates and economy of operation, is an ideal proposition for all de-packaging applications.”
A City of Sydney waste trial will see food scraps from up to 4000 homes diverted from landfill, and used to create green energy and plant fertiliser.
The trial involves separate collection and recycling of food scraps from residential properties in the council area.
Participating households have received a small kitchen caddy to store food scraps, an initial supply of compostable caddy liners and a food scraps bin to be placed on the kerb for pick up.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the trial was an important step in the evolution of waste collection, and a critical component of the city’s waste strategy and action plan, endorsed by council in 2017.
“There have been many advancements in waste separation technology, but the most effective method is when our residents separate the waste themselves at the source,” Ms Moore said.
“Food scraps generally make up one-third of the average red lid bin, so this trial will divert a significant amount of waste from landfill.”
The collected waste will be sent to EarthPower, Australia’s first food waste-to-energy processing facility.
“The scraps will be processed using anaerobic digestion technology, where microorganisms break down biodegradable material in a chamber without oxygen,” Ms Moore said.
“This process produces biogas, which is converted to green electricity and a nutrient-rich sludge that is dried and granulated to produce nutrient rich fertiliser.”
330 houses and 53 inner-city apartment blocks have been selected to take part in the trial.
“If successful, we’ll look at providing this service across the entire council area,” Ms Moore said.
The first-ever cooperative research centre for food waste reduction, the Fight Food Waste CRC, lays out its strategy to reduce product losses across the supply chain.
In addition to developing its own recyclable products and reducing unnecessary packaging, Woolworths is working towards a zero food waste future.
The Victorian Government has announced it will invest $500,000 in the Love Food Hate Waste business pilot program.
The program, originally designed for households, aims to help hospitality businesses reduce the environmental and financial impact of food waste – Victoria’s largest waste stream.
New research from Sustainability Victoria shows Victorian hospitality businesses produce an average of 5.6 tonnes of food waste every year, and 85 per cent of hospitality businesses consider this a significant issue. According to the research, over half this food waste is preventable.
The free three-step program will be available to all hospitality businesses in Victoria, providing practical resources to identify where food waste is occurring and how to make preventative changes.
The launch of the program builds on the Love Food Hate Waste’s ‘Love a List’ challenge, with 1,200 households participating in a program to reduce their household food waste.
The campaign is linked to a successful campaign of the same name developed in the United Kingdom by WRAP UK and delivered in New South Wales by the Environment Protection Authority.