Take a peek inside the kitchen rubbish bins around Victoria and you are likely to find some food waste - sandwich crusts, dinner leftovers, out of date packaged foods and something from the back of the fridge that might have once been a carrot. Or maybe it was cheese, it’s hard to tell by now.
What happens to that waste? The kitchen rubbish bin gets emptied into the council bin and which gets collected in a big truck weekly and taken away and you never have to see it again. Magic, right?
It ends up in landfill along with real rubbish. Forty percent of Victorian landfill is food waste, that’s food that Victorians produce, source and pay for, that ends up in landfill where food breaks down and creates methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Food waste in landfill can take 30 to 40 years to break down!
The University of Arizona conducted an archaeological dig of landfills and excavated undecomposed 40-year-old hot dogs, 25-year-old lettuces and decades-old newspapers which were still readable and were used to date how long ago the food had been thrown away! (Grimes, 1992)
What is food waste
Did you know that a quarter of the average household rubbish bin is avoidable food waste? Food that was bought with the intention of being eaten but wasn’t consumed.
There are two types of food waste – avoidable food waste is food that could have been eaten at some point but was instead thrown away. All your shrivelled vegies, uneaten sandwiches and mouldy leftovers fit into this category and to make up 65% of the food waste we create. Reducing the amount of avoidable food waste we create, through better meal planning and shopping and using up food before it goes bad will stop huge amounts of resources being wasted unnecessarily.
Unavoidable food waste is the inedible parts such as peels, bones, seeds and so on. While we can’t necessarily reduce this type of food waste, we can keep it out of landfill by composting it.
So, how do we waste so much food?
Take a check here: http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.vic.gov.au/About-your-food/Do-I-really-waste-food
Reduce Food Waste
Love Food, Hate Waste has dozens of ideas about minimising food waste in households, from planning ahead to reusing leftovers.
- Shop thoughtfully with a list.
- Plan meals for the week and avoid buying unnecessary food that you just won’t get around to eating before it hits the use by date. UK giant supermarket just ditched best before dates, on packaged produce because the labels were leading to shoppers throwing away perfectly edible food.
- Grow your own food – Save money, eat fresher and you will be less likely to waste what you have grown yourself. It also minimises food miles and packaging.
- Use leftovers to make delicious new meals.
What’s in your bin? Three Victorian families recently took up a 4 week challenge to reduce the food that they throw out each week and ended up saving hundreds of dollars.
See how much you can save by reducing your food waste with the Love a List 4-week Challenge.
You'll receive a free Love a List Pack including a meal planner, shopping list and challenge tracker. Everyone who signs up for the Challenge goes into the draw to win a grocery voucher worth $800!
Compost is a sustainable way to manage the unavoidable food waste. The process of composting breaks down food and creates useable garden fertiliser.
There are a few options and some councils are starting to introduce Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) collections as well.
You can check what the waste and recycling services in your local council and keep up to date here: Council services.
Not everything can be composted though, so it’s a good idea to minimise the amount of food waste that you create in the first place.