The National Food Waste Strategy provides a framework to support collective action towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030.
The strategy contributes toward global action on reducing food waste by aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12—ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns—in the United Nations Transforming our world: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also helps give effect to Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through the diversion of food waste from landfill.
Australia has well developed and highly sophisticated approaches to the way we produce, manufacture, distribute and sell food. These approaches make for a productive and profitable food and agribusiness industry. We also have a diverse range of hospitality and food service industries, and numerous food rescue charities and community groups that help provide those in need with a meal.
Although our food systems are highly developed and produce large volumes of nutritious food, food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion each year. This has significant impacts on the environment through the wasted use of resources such as land, water, energy and fuel to produce and distribute food. When disposed of in landfill, food waste has other environmental impacts such as the production of greenhouse gas emissions.
The volume and value of wasted food presents a number of opportunities to identify where the greatest benefits can be achieved in avoiding food waste or where it can be repurposed. This approach is consistent with the idea of a circular economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible while also minimising negative impacts.
In Australia, there is already a significant amount of work underway to target food waste that is making a difference locally, regionally and nationally. The strategy seeks to leverage these efforts, and identifies four priority areas where improvements can be made—policy support, business improvements, market development, and behaviour change.
The first steps on our collective journey will be supported by an initial funding commitment of over $1.3 million over 24 months. This funding will be used to support:
- an independent organisation that will develop an implementation plan and a monitoring and evaluation framework for the strategy, and coordinate priority areas of work
- a voluntary commitment program that will initially engage businesses and industries to commit to actions that reduce food waste
- a National Food Waste Baseline so that we can monitor and track progress towards our food waste reduction goal.
Implementation of the strategy to achieve our national goal of halving food waste by 2030 requires all Australians to work together and undertake meaningful action. Governments, industry, business, academia, food rescue organisations and all of the community have a role to play.