Breaking the cycle of food waste

Feb 28, 2014 by Kelly Stone
Breaking the cycle of food waste
Christian Reynolds opening waste skip.

Australian households throw away a whopping 5.5 million tonnes of left-over food every year – and UniSA PhD candidate Christian Reynolds is on a mission to break the cycle of food waste.

A Fresh Science 2013 finalist, Christian says has reached 'pastry-gate' proportions, with households, industry and governments throwing away enough pies and cakes to fill 24 Sydney Opera Houses in one year.

Christian estimates that over 629,000 tonnes of pies, pastries and cakes were discarded in 2008, with total food wastage across the country sitting at 8.7 million tonnes in that year.

But the humble householder is the biggest offender – with around 9kg of food being dumped from every home, every week.

Christian and his UniSA colleagues have traced the cycle of food waste in a three-year study looking at the economic, environmental and psychological modelling of food waste.

"Households are the worst culprits, accounting for more than half our food waste, with retail, restaurants, wholesalers and the education sector rounding out the top five," he says.

"Now that we have identified the top food wasters, we can tailor programs to reduce food waste in each sector.

"Reducing household food waste has often proven difficult because the reasons for over-purchasing are not rational. To change this behaviour, we need to understand the economic and social factors behind food purchase, preparation, recycling and disposal."

"Not only is food waste taking up valuable landfill space, but it is increasing Australia's carbon footprint through greenhouse gases from decomposition and transport."

But the study was not all bad news. Australian households are engaging in alternative methods of food waste disposal, with an average of 3.2 kilos of food waste per week being diverted to options such as backyard composting or feeding to pet chickens.

"Some local councils now even collect food waste in their green organics bins," Christian says.

Explore further: Fighting food waste in Nicaragua by 'eating united'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fighting food waste in Nicaragua by 'eating united'

Feb 10, 2014

The former University of Bristol student's community project, 'Eat United Nicaragua', combats food poverty and malnutrition among the most vulnerable people in Managua, Nicaragua, by collecting and cooking ...

Regions could use food waste for fuel

Mar 21, 2013

Murdoch University researchers are touting biogas from small-scale food waste digesters as a source of renewable energy for rural and regional communities.

Recommended for you

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

17 hours ago

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

New challenges for ocean acidification research

Dec 19, 2014

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

Dec 19, 2014

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.