We Have a Food Waste Situation – Sustainable Living Choices

By Ewa Bekiesch – Permaculture Designer and Sustainable Living Consultant

Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”― Bill Mollison

Food Waste Globally

‘Food waste is a huge global problem. According to the United Nations Environment Program and their Food Waste Index Report 2021 ( unep.org) issued at the beginning of March 2021, the world wastes about 17% of all food produced. That is about one billion tons of food a year, which is over 2 trillion (2,000,000,000,000) pounds or about 931 billion (931,000,000,000) kilograms. More than half of food waste happens at home, following by restaurants and shops. Some food is also wasted at the farms for several reasons. You can find the full report in the link below.

Food Waste in Australia

According to the Food Bank Australia (foodbank.org.au)

  • ‘On average, we Australians throw one in five shopping bags of food in the bin – that’s about $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year.
  • Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person!
  • The average Australian household is sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week.
  • In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year – that’s enough to fill 13,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Of the 7.3 million tonnes of food that is lost or wasted, 1.2 million is recycled, 2.9 million is recovered, and 3.2 million is sent to landfill – enough to fill 5,400 Olympic sized swimming pools!
  • 75% of all food that is sent to landfill comes from our households.
  • Up to 25% of all vegetables produced never leave the farm.
  • Potatoes and Bananas are the most commonly thrown away produce. In Australia, approximately 37,000 tonnes of bananas are discarded from farms every year.
  • So where does 7.3 million tonnes of lost or wasted food come from? Households are the biggest contributors (34%), followed by primary production (31%) and manufacturing (24%).
  • Food waste also plays a role in harming the environment. Rotting food in landfill produces methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated.
  • When we waste food, we also waste the natural resources that go into making it, like land, water and energy.
  • 1,460 gigalitres of water is used annually to grow Australian produce that is thrown out.’

Simple Solution – Home Composting

With all this in mind, it is important to know that we can help. Having your own food waste management system at home is important and good for many reasons:

  • it is reducing greenhouse emissions, it reduces the methane emissions from landfills and lower your carbon footprint
  • it reduces chemical needs
  • it saves water by helping the soil keep moisture and reduces water run-off
  • it benefits the environment by recycling organic resources
  • reduces landfill waste
  • recycles kitchen and garden waste
  • enriches soil
  • encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus
  • it helps replenish and stabilise soil
  • it improves the pH of the soil – it helps separate heavy soils and it also stabilise sandy soil
  • add nutrients
  • it saves you money as there is no need to buy fertiliser or manure, and because there is no need to buy veggies and fruits when you have it growing in your garden

There are many different composting systems to go for depending on your household situation. Choosing the right one is important to avoid smell and keep the pests away from your home. You can reduce food waste even if you don’t have your own garden! Check our website or send me an email for more info and if you need help in deciding which composting method is best for you.

References:

UN Environment Programme, REPORT UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021, https://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021, 04 March 2021

Food Bank, Food Waste Facts, https://www.foodbank.org.au/food-waste-facts-in-australia/?state=qld, Viewed on the 31 May 2021

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