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24 July, 2021

KITCHEN BIN 'DEEP DIVE' REVEALS AUSSIE HOME FOOD WASTE IS TWICE AS BAD AS WE THINK

Australia’s largest-ever food waste survey of household kitchens has shown we throw out twice as much food as we think we do, with the waste costing an average of $965 per person per year. CQUniversity researchers led the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) project, which revealed beef, bread, cheese, and salad are the most thrown out foods in Australian kitchens.


Australia’s largest-ever food waste survey of household kitchens has shown we throw out twice as much food as we think we do, with the waste costing an average of $965 per person per year.

CQUniversity researchers led the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) project, which revealed beef, bread, cheese, and salad are the most thrown out foods in Australian kitchens.

But there’s hope for households to end the waste, with the report identifying a range of ways Australians are rescuing at-risk food before it can reach the bin.

The Australian household food waste report was compiled by CQUniversity researchers Dr Gamithri Karunasena and Professor David Pearson, and was released this month.

Professor Pearson, who leads the FFW CRC’s ENGAGE program, said the report was “a comprehensive deep dive” into what we’re wasting in our homes.

“This is the first time data has been collected from throughout Australia. And it tells us Australian households, despite their best efforts, underestimate their food waste by half,” he said.

Prof Pearson said the huge waste was happening despite many households having good food habits, and said young people and families with children were likely to waste the most.

“Most of our respondents were planning ahead before hitting the shops, checking the cupboards, fridge and freezer, and then making a shopping list.

“Where we could be doing better is with learning how to make better use of leftovers, and not purchasing extra food for ‘just in case’.”

“There’s also a need to improve knowledge around the broader impact that food waste has on our environment.

“The results showed a lot of misconceptions around food put in compost or fed to pets. Australians need to realise this waste still contributes to climate change.”

The report included a survey of more than 2800 Australians that established a benchmark for how much food households estimated they wasted every week, then compared the benchmark to results from waste e-diaries kept by participants, then to a bin audit of 500 of the e-diary respondents.

While the survey showed the average waste estimate was 2.03 kg of food waste per household per week, the e-diary reported 2.89 kg was binned, and the bin audit revealed 4.22 kg a week was actually being ditched.

Prof Pearson said the research was supported by a coalition of industry, food rescue organisations, government departments and CQUniversity, and led by project manager Dr Karunasena.

“This report highlights the ongoing challenges and barriers for Australians in reducing their food waste, and we need this understanding to change behaviours, and meet the Australian Government’s goal to halve food waste by 2030,” Prof Pearson said.

Food waste across households and industry costs Australia $20 billion every year.

The report challenges households to take action by:

- Planning meals, checking fridge and pantry supplies, creating a shopping list (and sticking to it!),

- Storing food by putting food that needs to be eaten first at the front of shelves,

- Planning ahead to store leftovers for an easy meal the next day.

Prof Pearson said events and dinner parties were good opportunities to think ahead.

“We can all make our events ‘no food waste’ events, with simple solutions like providing takeaway containers to guests no one is overwhelmed with leftovers,” he said.

The Australian household food waste report is part of the ‘Designing effective interventions to reduce household food waste’ research project.


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