Radio New Zealand National is somewhat underrated for its level of interesting, informative and on-trend information. This past Saturday This Way Up looked into the amount of food waste that there is each year, where it comes from and what we can do. They state that there are no reliable figures from the Ministry for the Environment for food waste in New Zealand but site a 2003 Australian study that said that 13% of all waste is from food – that’s around $500 per person per year. They go on to say that this ofcourse has a significant impact on the levels of Methane in our landfills which is around 35 times more impactful and damaging than CO2 in the atmosphere.
In 2008, in Christchurch, 23% of our waste is “kitchen” waste which we can assume will be mostly food, that has gone to landfill. That’s 50,000 kg of organics that could have been composted (there are no figures on how much comes from household and how much from producers, manufacturers and retailers).
This Way Up interviewed Tristram Stuart who wrote the book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal who talks about how the UK government “raked through 2000 homes” in order to see what was in their rubbish and the impact of food waste from retailers and manufacturers. He also discusses how the UK government carried out an educational campaign on how to reduce their food waste (such as food storage, cooking and using left overs) and it worked saving many hundreds of millions of pounds.
This Way Up then they interviewed both Foodstuffs and Progressive (although Foodstuff didn’t give an interview and stated it “didn’t have any figures on the problem” of food waste from the supermarkets). Progressive state that nationally they are sending 20,000 tonnes of food waste to landfill and that “they are actively monitoring and measuring this”.
Interestingly, Progressive are looking to reduce their carbon footprint by 40% by 2014 on 2006 levels and to reduce their food waste by 1%. Progressive are also rolling out a feedstock programme so that their organic food waste goes to livestock and have given manager’s the opportunity to reduce prices that have gone past their sell by date (nothing is sold that has gone past its used by date and they discuss the health and safety around products that have gone past their used by date but could still be okay to eat and they are looking into a programme that can give this healthy but gone past its used by date to the needy). They are also using better food ordering and waste reporting systems.
This is an interesting insight into food waste in New Zealand and we feel there is a quite a gap in knowledge on our food waste.