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Halving Australia’s food waste by 2030

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A new feasibility study analyses Australia’s goal of halving food waste by 2030, and lays out the initiatives and investments that will be required to achieve the goal, including improvements to the cold food chain. Internationally, food waste is a huge issue. According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, food waste produces 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste was a country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind the USA and China. In Australia, there is much room for improvement. According to the National Food Waste Baseline, each year Australia wastes approximately 7.3 million tonnes of food – or about 300kg per person.

In 2017 the federal government published the National Food Waste Strategy to provide a framework to support collective action towards reducing Australia’s food waste. The strategy committed to a target of halving Australia’s annual food waste by 2030, in line with the requirements of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3.

The feasibility study reports that it is possible to reduce Australia’s food waste by 52% by 2030. Image credit: AFCCC
The feasibility study reports that it is possible to reduce Australia’s food waste by 52% by 2030. Image credit: AFCCC

In 2020, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) published A Roadmap for reducing Australia’s food waste by half by 2030. This detailed the initiatives required to make progress towards the 2030 target. It recommended a study to fill significant gaps in the food waste baseline, provide more granularity on the feasibility of achieving the target and define the associated actions and investment required to achieve it. That has now been delivered in a new publication: The National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study.

The feasibility study reports that it is possible to reduce Australia’s food waste by 52% by 2030, if the recommended scenario is fully implemented at the described scale and pace. This includes spending AUD2-billion across a tranche of initiatives, which are expected to reap AUD58-billion in net benefit for society.

Specific interventions include consumer campaigns, lean manufacturing, resale and donation of surplus food, and food cold chain from farm to fork.

Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) chairman Mark Mitchell has welcomed the report as a step in the right direction. He says the signs are positive for a big increase in investment, time and resources.

The AFCCC recommends that every company that handles food in refrigeration should embed quality management systems throughout their entire process. Mitchell says that when the AFCCC meets a lack of appetite for improvement of cold chain processes, this reluctance to participate can be generally related to an inability to recognise that there is another, and bigger layer of responsibility on top of any number of refrigerated spaces, data-acquisition technologies and intelligent refrigeration controls.

According to the AFCCC, the food cold chain must be seen as a second layer, or a combination of the whole range of assets used by companies to transport, store and distribute food from farm or manufacturing facility to the consumer. Once these processes are incorporated into quality management systems, the chances of limiting food waste become increasingly higher.

“We are just one part of the cold chain,” says Mitchell, “but we are one of the solutions to the problem. We are here to help.”

To read the National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study, click here.