FOOD WASTE: WHEN WILL YOU STOP?

NSW throws away $2.5 billion worth of edible food every year. The ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ program and other workshops are initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the impacts of food waste. But will the carbon tax also impact on our food waste? The Milk Moustache’s Alexia Attwood reports.


VO: Reduce, reuse and recycle. It’s a message we hear all the time, but in NSW, we throw away $2.5 billion worth of perfectly edible food every year. When this food rots in landfill, it gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 times more potent than the carbon pollution that comes out of a car exhaust, and it’s significantly contributing to global warming. It’s easy to understand all this, but what is it going to take to change Australia’s food waste habits?

The ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ program is an initiative implemented by the NSW Office of Heritage and Environment, and is aimed at raising awareness about the impacts of food waste. Mark Jackson, is the Acting Manager of Resource Recovery in the Office of Environment and Heritage. He says the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ program mobilises a range of groups throughout NSW to engage with food waste issues.

Mark Jackson: We’ve got some fantastic partnerships with big businesses like Woolworths who are actively promoting the issue to their customers, through to over 50 councils in NSW, and also fantastic charities like OzHarvest who collect food from cafes and restaurants which is left over, and redistribute that to needy people in the community.

VO: The Nature and Conservation Council of NSW run free workshops through local councils to teach community members about the problems with buying too much, cooking too much, and not storing food correctly.

Lesley Andrew: The first workshop introduces the concept of food waste and economic and environmental impacts, and also we introduce  the whole concept of buying food to avoid food waste. The second workshop is about cooking food, so concentrate on portion sizes, staples, and the reuse of leftovers. And the third and final workshop is on storage and preservation of food, and we actually get hands on and preserve surplus seasonal produce.

VO: Alex Serpo is from WME, Environment Business Media. He says the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ workshops rely on Australians taking initiative to change their own behaviour.

Alex Serpo: Behaviour changed campaigns can be very hit and miss; they can be successful, they can be failures. I think people tend to respond to positive messages well, and negative messages only work in the context of where there’s a clear solution. I don’t know how successful that campaign will be. I hope it will be successful.

VO: But now there is another important factor, other than these behaviour changing campaigns like the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ program, that may influence Australians to reduce their food waste. That factor is Australia’s newly introduced carbon tax.

Rob Oakeshott: There has been political blood spilt all over the place; there have been 37 committees of enquiry into pricing carbon in Australia. It’s fair to say that there have been two prime ministers heads that have rolled in a political sense, an opposition leaders heads rolled. All of us who are trying to get this thing through are a bit like the knights of knee: we’ve lost our arms and legs but we’re still trying to fight.

Alex Serpo: The carbon tax is very likely to increase the cost of waste disposal. The increased cost has been estimated to be about 200 million dollars. The reason for this is that because of the 500 largest polluters included under the carbon tax, 191 of them are in the waste industry, where most of those are landfills. But conversely, the carbon tax will make recycling more competitive, so businesses and households can avoid additional costs, which may come from increased recycling.

VO: Time will tell if this greater economic pressure on Australian households will reduce our food waste.

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