Halving food waste in Victoria

Published: 27 January 2021

As Victorians, we’re justifiably proud of our food and drink culture.

In Victoria we:

  • grow 25% of all fresh food in Australia
  • process over 50% of all Australian-made foods
  • are responsible for around 25% of Australia’s total food waste.

Food waste is a global issue. Each year around the world we waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food. About one third of all the food produced for human consumption becomes waste. This not only affects us financially, but is a major contributor to global warming.

Many countries have signed up to halve food waste by 2030. Victoria is now part of the global movement.

To halve food waste, we must consider ways to reduce, reuse and recycle food through a circular economy. By rescuing and redistributing food that would otherwise go to waste, we’re maximising resources across the entire supply chain.

Our Path to Half report is the first ever Australian perspective on the true cost of food waste. The report dives into food waste in Victoria and ways to prevent it. This page summarises the report findings.

Download the full Path to Half report.

The target to halve food waste

The Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria investment and action plan is committed to:

  • cut waste generation by 15% per capita over the next 10 years
  • halve food and organic waste going to landfill.

The policy aims to use a circular approach by reducing and reusing food waste across the entire food supply chain.

In 2020, Victoria wasted 2.4 million tonnes of food.

By 2030, Victoria’s goal is to reduce food waste to 1.2 million tonnes.

The true cost of food waste

To understand the true impact of food waste, we need to go beyond measuring the volume wasted in tonnes.

Each year, food waste has a significant cost, including the money, water and energy put in along the way. Food waste has an impact on:

  • climate change
  • water loss
  • economic cost.

Food waste is both a financial and environmental issue

In Victoria, each year it:

  • costs us $6 billion made up of lost product value and disposal fees
  • creates 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions
  • wastes 29 billion litres of water.

Food waste impacts the entire supply chain

The further food travels along the food supply chain, the more we lose when we throw it away.

Understanding the true cost along the supply chain allows us to prioritise solutions so that we can maximise the gains.

Food waste solutions

First, focus on prevention

Our best chance to reduce food waste is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

In the food waste hierarchy prevention is the first step. For this reason, our solutions focus on this step.

If we can’t prevent food waste, move to the next best option in the food waste hierarchy, and so on.

From the top to the bottom of the waste hierarchy: Prevention, recycling, recovery of energy and finally, disposal.

Foods to fix

Based on the foods with the highest impact we’ve identified 6 foods to focus on first.

Targeting these 6 foods can reduce food waste by up to 1.5 million tonnes.

Apples

  • For every apple eaten, we waste half an apple on average
  • Apples (and fruit in general) are one of the biggest opportunities to cut food waste

Bread

  • The third highest contributor to climate change, right after dairy and meat
  • For every loaf we eat, half a loaf is thrown away

Cheese

  • For every kilo eaten, we produce over a kilo of waste
  • Reducing cheese waste is the fourth highest solution for emissions and the second-best for water saving

Meat

  • Biggest contributor to climate change
  • Second most expensive food we waste

Milk

  • One of the highest contributors to climate change, water and economic impacts
  • More than 90% of milk waste occurs in hospitality businesses, institutions and households

Tomatoes

  • For every kilo of fresh or canned tomatoes eaten there’s almost 750 grams of waste

Actions

We identified 25 solutions to halve food waste. Of those solutions, we have 8 recommended early actions. These actions will get us moving towards halfway to half and reducing food waste by 635,000 tonnes.

A full break down of the 25 solutions is included in the Path to Half full report.

Longer shelf life

A longer milk shelf life will reduce:

  • consumer waste by 15%
  • emissions by 10%
  • water loss by 5.7 million litres.

It would also save households, retailers and hospitality venues about $178 million each year.

Increase food rescue, recovery and donation

Using quality food that would otherwise go to waste in farms, warehouses, retail and food service venues can save $165 million. More importantly, it can provide 188 million meals to Victorians with limited access to fresh nutritious food.

A multipronged approach that includes charities and not-for-profit businesses is needed.

Convert food waste into animal feed

This can reduce consumer food waste by 20% or 163,000 tonnes.

This can also free up demand for land used to feed animals.

New technologies provide different pathways to explore this solution such as insects and chicken feed processes.

Tracking waste and analytics

This gives us the data to understand food waste and change the way we run our businesses. It can reduce food waste by 78,000 tonnes and can identify ways we can reuse food. Using it across more food sectors can help us trade and exchange food. It can include both small scale and on-site tracking, or technologies across whole supply chains, such as blockchain and loT.

Household behaviour change

This is one of the highest-ranking solutions. It helps reduce the accumulated impacts of food waste, as well as the high impact of food waste disposal to landfill. It takes a long and sustained effort, but it can pay off.

Improve cold supply chain

Good temperature control keeps food fresh as it travels along the supply chain. This reduces food waste and saves distributers, retailers and customers $179 million a year.

Transform dairy waste into new products

Dairy is one of Victoria’s largest production sectors. Processing the whey leftover from making cheese to animal feed can reduce processing waste by 20% or 163,000 tonnes. Although this has little impact on emissions, water and cost.

New technologies and centralised processing facilities may be needed to enable this solution to be cost effective.

Food service solutions

Hospitality businesses generate a large amount of waste that could be converted to animal feed. Waste audits can identify opportunities to save money and reduce food waste. They can also support businesses to put waste reduction solutions into practice.

Download the Path to Half full report

The Path to Half report has been developed by Sustainability Victoria.

It’s the first ever Australian perspective on the impacts of food waste has on:

  • climate change
  • water loss
  • economic cost.

The report explains the true cost of food waste. It examines solutions from across the globe and their potential to reduce food waste and its impacts in Victoria.

Join us

With only 10 years to meet our target, we need to get started on a path to halve food waste today. All of us have a role to play.

If you have any questions, email us.

You can also book a 20-minute appointment with one of our experts.