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10 ways to reduce food waste at home

Australians are said to generate approximately 19 million tonnes of organic waste every year – and one recycling expert is urging householders to rethink their attitude to this material as a critical step in the process of recycling more.

Martin Tower, executive director of the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA), will debate this point next week at the eighth annual Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE).

“We look for ways to ‘get rid’ of waste but we need to start managing this material as a resource,” he says.
 

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Founded in 1994, Northey Street City Farm in the heart of Brisbane turns food waste dropped off by local residents into compost. Image via Twitter.

More recycling and less waste

Martin points to Brisbane City Council’s Northey Street City Farm, which turned four cubic metres of food waste dropped off by local residents into compost, as a great example of what can be achieved – but still a drop in the ocean.

“Every little bit helps, but consider what Northey Street City Farm is achieving and then compare that with the 19 million tonnes of organic waste Australians generate every year,” he says. “Four cubic metres is a great start but when we look at the industrial scale of this, that method is not the answer to this problem.

“We need to transition to achieving this at an industrial scale with quality products going to enhance the production capacity of agricultural soils.”

Despite the government sector taking up the population’s call for more recycling and less waste, Martin says the expectation for instant – or at the very least, short-term – gratification is a little harder to achieve.

“If you think that a single, state-of-the-art composting facility is going to cost between $12-20 million, and you need one at every council depot to make it work, then it’s not an overnight fix; it’s something we need to transition towards,” he says.

“Also, it’s important to remember that only 50 per cent of the food that is manufactured ever makes it into a human body – that’s the stuff that perishes in transport, doesn’t get sold in the supermarket and doesn’t leave the farm. It’s a staggering amount.”
 

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Buy only the ingredients you need by planning your meals and writing a list.

Ways to reduce food waste

While most states have introduced landfill levies to drive recycling, Martin says we can all help to deal with one of their biggest issues: contamination. Rusted out barbeque plates, dog toys, tennis balls – everything gets thrown in.

“Ninety per cent of Australian families would have a plastic bag on the kitchen bench and after dinner they scrape food waste into the bag, along with some packaging, and maybe something the dog’s dropped, then they tie it up and put it in the bin,” he says. “Now that is just utterly useless in terms of the recycling process.”

“The sector works very hard on getting contamination out of product but it would be a lot easier if it didn’t go in in the first place. Simply put, it’s not waste, it’s a wasted resource.”

Here are 10 helpful tips to help you create less food waste:

  1. Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the ingredients you need
  2. Look in your fridge and pantry first to avoid buying food you already have
  3. When you get home from shopping, wash, dry, then store fresh food items in clear containers so you can easily see what you have in the fridge
  4. Properly store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer
  5. Fruits that release natural gases as they ripen need to be stored separately. Here’s some information on how to prevent spoilage
  6. Freeze food you know you won’t be able to eat in time, such as bread and sliced fruit, before it spoils
  7. Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more
  8. Produce slightly past its prime can often be used for soups, stock, casseroles, stir fries, baked goods and smoothies
  9. Use expiration dates as a guide and first check whether food smells, looks and tastes alright before you throw it out
  10. Finally, avoid filling your fridge to the brim as it’s easy to forget about food you can’t see. If this is unavoidable, rotate older ingredients to the front

The Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo takes place on the 23rd and 24th August at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Martin’s presentation is on Wednesday 23rd of August.

For more information, including a full list of speakers and exhibitors, visit awre.com.au

About the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo

The Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE) is a leading event to discover the latest developments for waste, recycling and resource recovery, find cost effective solutions, and stay-up-to-date with the industry trends and policies.

Now in its eighth year, AWRE connects all corners of the industry including waste management professionals, commercial enterprises, and representatives from all levels of government, with nearly 2,000 attendees and more than 120 exhibitors from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the U.K. and North America.

AWRE is part of Diversified Communications, which has a portfolio of over 20 premium industry-specific trade and consumer events.

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Veda Dante

Veda Dante is an accomplished journalist, consultant and content creator who has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about everything from tourism, hospitality and health to architecture, pools and luxury goods. When she’s not producing copy for clients, this self-confessed word nerd is usually writing and photographing the Byron Bay region for her blog www.livebyron.com.au

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.