Australia’s annual food waste bill hits $10B

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.”

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Paddles and packaging: Wastech Engineering

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.”

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Sydney trials kerbside food waste collection

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.

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Victoria invests in Love Food Hate Waste program

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.

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Yume and REMONDIS working together to reduce food waste

Yume, an online business to business marketplace for the sale of surplus food, is working with water and environmental services company REMONDIS to sell excess food and reduce waste.

REMONDIS will use Yume’s marketplace to assist customers in selling their surplus products, reducing waste disposal costs and delivering better environmental outcomes.

REMONDIS General Manager for Integrated and Managed Services Nathan Radley said working with Yume allows the company to expand its services on the waste value chain.

“Yume is a great way to access the first two stages of the food waste hierarchy, avoid and reuse, before we move onto recycling, waste to energy and ultimately disposal,” Mr Radley said.

REMONDIS recently listed 13.8 tonnes of maple syrup on Yume, sourced from a customer with excess stock.

“The product was quickly snapped up on Yume, providing a significant return to the customer while saving 952,000 litres of water and preventing the release of 27,600 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere,” Mr Radley said.

Yume founder Katy Barfield said through connecting suppliers to buyers, the company helps reduce the 4.1 million tonnes of food waste sent to landfill in Australia each year.

“Yume has already sold over 813,000 kilograms of quality surplus food, returning $2.6 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers.

“In doing so, Yume has saved 56,112 million litres of water and prevented 1,626 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released,” Ms Barfield said.

At the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, Yume was recognised for its efforts towards reducing waste and landfill impact — winning the Premier’s Recognition Award, the Innovative Products or Services award, and the Small and Medium Enterprises award.

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Nestlé co-launches Future Food Initiative research program

Nestlé has announced the launch of the Future Food Initiative, a joint research program to support the company in developing sustainable food and beverage products.

The Future Food Initiative brings together Swiss academic and industrial partners leading in nutritional science and food technology, including ETH Zurich, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), as well as Swiss companies Nestlé, Bühler and Givaudan.

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The initiative encourages food and nutrition research in areas relevant to consumer trends and sustainability, and it includes a postdoctoral fellowship program to promote young scientists. The first research projects will focus on plant-based nutrition and ancient plant varieties.

“We accelerate innovation in collaboration with a variety of external partners, including world-class academia, globally leading suppliers and creative start-ups across the world,” Stefan Palzer, CTO of Nestlé S.A. said.

“To address open scientific questions and challenges related to food trends and sustainable nutrition is key for us as we create tasty and nutritious food for all age groups. As one of the initiators of this important Swiss research initiative, we reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen the unique Swiss research ecosystem for food and nutrition research.”

A significant part of Nestlé’s global research and development organisation is located in Switzerland, including Nestlé Research.

NSW Govt boosts organics collection funding by $4.9M

Funding has been granted by the NSW Government to 10 organics collection projects to improve services that recycle food and garden waste into compost.

The grants will go towards the provision of kitchen caddies to hold food waste and make it easier for households to use the new food organics and garden organics collections.

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It also will help provide new garden waste kerbside collection services in two local government areas, and food and garden or food only collection services to households and business in seven council areas. This includes more than 100,000 households living in units within Sydney.

The $4.9 million in grant funding is shared across Armidale Regional Council, City of Sydney, Cumberland Council, Lockhart Shire Council, Penrith City Council, Randwick City Council, Upper Lachlan Shire and Wagga Wagga City.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said nearly half the landfill from household bins is food and garden waste (approximately 45 per cent).

“Simply putting all food and garden waste into green bins will dramatically reduce the amount of household garbage currently going to landfill,” she said.

“When food and garden waste goes into the green lid bin, it is properly processed and becomes a clean, green supply of compost, rather than rotting away in landfill and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

“For the first time, this program is also supporting food waste collections from businesses, with three projects that will collect around 1350 tonnes of business food waste a year,” Ms Upton said.

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