Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Officer Dr Steven Lapidge today announced the release of the Food Waste: National Benchmarking Study Summary Report, Australia’s first comprehensive survey that benchmarks the household behaviours and motivations towards food waste of Australians. Food waste is a growing issue because it is a waste of resources all along the food supply chain, including the water and energy used on farm all the way through to the food getting from the supermarket to the fridge. When food is sent to landfill rather than eaten, it releases methane as it breaks down, which is a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
The national survey of over 5000 people finds that while most (76%) are strongly motivated to reduce the amount of food waste in their household, they underestimate the actual amount of food they throw away by up to two-thirds. Despite a recent national baseline finding nearly 2.5 million tonnes of food waste per year was created in Australian homes, or 4.9 kilograms per household per week, the average survey respondent estimated they threw away, for example, just 1.4 slices of bread per week and just one cup of vegetables or herbs. In total, people estimated they threw away around 2.65 litres of food waste per week - much lower than the 5 to 7 litres found in a range of other studies around the country.
Dr Lapidge says that he's heard many times over the years that consumers don't think that they waste food and that they feel guilty when they do.
"This is the first time in Australia we’ve had such a significant study into household behaviours and motivations toward food waste and it highlights the disconnect between consumer perceptions and reality. The Australian Government’s 2019 National Food Waste Baseline report found that Australians waste 298kgs per person per year with approximately 1/3 of that occurring in the home. Our new study shows that while most people do want to reduce their food waste, many of us are cooking more than we need to or not taking simple steps such as using up leftovers. And it’s costing households thousands of dollars a year.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said that the CRC’s report shows the widespread economic effects of food waste and outlines the ways households and organisations can cut it back.
“The study will be a benchmark for industry, research and the community to work together and capitalise on opportunities, which have the potential to save Australia$20 billion per annum in food waste,” Minister Andrews said.
“The Australian Government is committed to boosting our onshore plastic recycling industry, increasing Australia’s recycling rates, and continuing action to halve food waste by 2030.”
Key findings of the Food Waste National Benchmarking study include:
· The combined average reported food waste per household over 7 days, across vegetables and herbs, fresh fruit, dairy, meat and seafood, bread and bakery items, frozen foods, dry goods, drinks, leftovers and inedible food equated to 2.65 litres.
· Almost one third of participants reported that they could not tell if something was safe to eat so disposed of it.
· 51% of household food managers understood the meaning of both use by and best before food date labels.
· 4 in 10 people (44%) reported making extra food’just in case‘ half the time or more
· A third of people (33%) reported that at least half of the time, their fridge or freezer was too full tostore more food.
· Less than half (47%) of Australian household food managers reported making use of leftovers most of the time and over a third (36%) rarely saved and ate leftovers.
Project Leader, Rebecca Bliss from Sustainability Victoria said that the survey was a collaboration of organisations across Australia that are well placed to drive the necessary changes to consumer behaviour in reducing food waste.
"We have every mainland state government and the ACT, Central Queensland University, Australia's two largest food rescue charities Food Bank and OzHarvest, the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Program, plus Australia's largest supermarket retailer Woolworths at the table for this project to help Australian consumers reduce their food waste.
"This group understand they are greater than the sum of their parts and for Australia to really make an impact and reduce its food waste, we need to be working together.
This initial survey, which was managed by the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in collaboration with the wider project team, is the first of a series of research into tackling household food waste to be delivered in coming years through the collaborative project.
Dr Steven Lapidge says that he is often asked what consumers can do to reduce their food waste and the answer is relatively simple; to use up what is in your fridge, plan meals before you go to the shops and to love your leftovers.
“We understand that Australians want to provide the best for their families, and we can do this by making the most of our food and saving ourselves money on our grocery bills at the same time.
“This report is the first step in providing the evidence on behaviours leading to food waste in households throughout Australia. By understanding these behaviours, the Fight Food Waste CRC and its participants will know where they can help Australian households to reduce food waste.”
About The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre
The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre launched in July 2018, and brings together industry, research and the community to capitalise on Australia’s food waste opportunities. Winning this fight will save Australia $20 billion per annum in food waste. Through its three research and development programs, the Fight Food Waste CRC will REDUCE food waste throughout the supply chain, TRANSFORM unavoidable waste into innovative products, and ENGAGE with industry and consumers to deliver behavioural change.
The Fight Food Waste CRC was funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry and Science as part of the CRC Program that supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community.
Participants in this project are:
Central Queensland University: https://www.cqu.edu.au
Sustainability Victoria: https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au
Green Industries South Australia: https://www.greenindustries.sa.gov.au
ACT Government Transport Canberra and City Services: https://www.tccs.act.gov.au
Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation: https://www.der.wa.gov.au
Queensland Government of Environment and Science: https://www.des.qld.gov.au
Food Innovation Australia Ltd: https://fial.com.au
Food Bank: https://www.foodbank.org.au/?state=sa
Waste and Resource Action Plan (WRAP) UK http://www.wrap.org.uk/
Further information and a copy of the Food Waste: National Benchmarking Study summary report , please visit the Fight Food Waste CRC website www.fightfoodwastecrc.com.au
Tanya Wilkins, Communication Manager - 0439 958 824 or [email protected]
Tanya WilkinsM: 0439958824