Food Waste in Australia

Food Waste in Australia

Jan 01, 2021Richard Tourino

We’ve all experienced the floppy carrot, gooey lettuce or cultured zucchini in the back of the fridge. This is the type of wasted food we are most familiar with. However, it isn’t the only origin of food waste, and there are steps we can take to avoid food waste before that carrot has even made it to our fridge. 

Food waste is a growing problem in Australia, with over 7 million tonnes of food being wasted every year.

Why is it a problem?

Food waste accounts for more than 5% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. As food goes into the waste bin, it heads to landfill where the unnatural conditions (high temperature, amongst inorganic materials) means the food gives off more methane as it rots than it would in a compost bin or garden. Methane gas is 84 times more potent at increasing the global temperature than carbon dioxide across a 20 year period, so it is more harmful to the environment and us. 

The unit of measurement for this is CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), which takes into account methane’s potency. It is estimated that one tonne of CO2e is emitted for every tonne of food waste in landfill. So, per year, Australia is generating 7 million tonnes of CO2e into the atmosphere just from wasted food. 

But along with the carbon footprint, this wasted food is wasting everything that was put into its production — labour, energy, and water. Of the water used in agriculture, ⅓ is used to produce wasted food. To put this into perspective, one orange requires 50 litres of water to produce. If that orange never makes it to the supermarket shelf, or into your belly, then those 50 litres have been lost.

We need to avoid food waste! So, where is it happening and what can we do? 

It’s happening at supermarkets, restaurants, and - as we’ve all experienced - even in our own homes (the lettuce had so much promise a week ago). While we can all take steps to reduce food waste in our homes by buying less, seeking community compost sites, or baking zucchini muffins, where we buy our vegetables can make a difference too. 

Good & Fugly gives you the opportunity to buy directly from farms, to reduce this point of food waste. Many delicious fruits and vegetables never leave the farm. Most of this food is completely edible and perfect to sell, but it’s rejected from supermarkets because of high aesthetic standards (apparently spots on apples, straight bananas or carrots with two legs will not be tolerated!). 

Estimates are that 20 - 40% of fruit and vegetables get rejected due to these standards. And it’s harsher to some produce than others: apples can be 20%, while poor bananas are up at the 40% mark. This food could have been sold to help support farmers, but it’s either just thrown away, plowed into fields, or fed to livestock. In terms of wasted land area, about 30% of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce food that is never eaten by consumers. Annually, food waste costs Australian farmers $2.84 billion. 

We want to do something to change this - so join us! Who doesn’t love a wonky cucumber anyway?


More articles