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New centre in Adelaide to help tackle Australia’s food waste problem

Food waste is estimated to cost Australia $20 billion each year.

(ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)

South Australia will lead the way in the battle to combat Australia’s $20 billion food waste bill, with a new national research centre set to launch in Adelaide. Key points: It’s estimated that 5.3 million tonnes of food is wasted in Australia each year

This adds up to an average household throwing away nearly $4,000 of unused food A new centre in Adelaide will lead research into reducing food waste Researchers at the $132 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will work to find ways to reduce food waste in Australia, as well as the associated landfill and social issues.

According to the centre, each year Australia wastes 40 per cent of the food it produces and individual households throw away nearly $4,000 of unused food. Millions of tonnes wasted each year

In November 2017, the Federal Government launched its National Food Waste Strategy, which is working towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. IMAGE The new research centre will look into ways of reducing food waste and landfill

The Government has estimated that Australian consumers throw away about 3.1 million tonnes of edible food a year. Another 2.2 million tonnes is estimated to be discarded by the commercial and industrial sector, equating to some 5.3 million tonnes of waste in total.

CRC chief executive Dr Steven Lapidge said food waste cost Australia an estimated $20 billion each year and that was having an impact on the country’s reputation as an efficient and sustainable food producer.

“The reason we’re here is because South Australia is really a leader in sustainability initiatives, whether it’s container recycling or banning plastic bags, and this is what will be a national sustainability initiative all around reducing our food waste,” he said.

He said the new centre would have three targeted research programs — reduce, transform and engage — aiming to reduce food waste and create behavioural change.

“So often because of our busy lifestyle, fruit doesn’t get eaten and ends up going in the bin so just better planning, better food storage, is where we can actually have the biggest impact around reducing food waste,” he said. T

he War on Waste Podcast Join Craig Reucassel and Wendy Harmer, as they explore the big issues in waste management, talk to those behind change, and learn how every little bit can make a difference.

“Winning this fight has a $20 billion annual prize, so all participants of this CRC are focused and ready to get to work.” Researchers at the centre will aim to reduce food waste through the supply chain, transform waste into other products and engage with industry and consumers to deliver behavioural change.

It is also anticipated that with less food waste ending up in landfill and an increase in donated food, the centre could also contribute to feeding people in need, as well as reducing greenhouse gases.

“Food waste rotting in landfill actually emits nearly six times the amount of greenhouse gases as the global aviation industry,”

Dr Lapidge said. “If we are going to do something about climate change, we really need to be looking strongly at food waste.”

Centre will work with experts nationally Associate professor Karli Verghese, leader of the reduce research program at the new centre, said the team in Adelaide would be working with experts and researchers from across the country.

She said the centre would allow Australia to take its food waste initiatives to the next level.

“We’ve already got momentum… there’s already action happening, but it’s about taking it to the next stage,” Dr Verghese told the ABC.

“The centre is based here in Adelaide but we have nodes in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia at the moment.

“We’re tackling and working on issues at [farms], through the supply chain, at retail and in households as well.”

She said she believed about 200 people would be involved in the research across the country and it was important to tackle the issue as a team.

“I think not only in Australia, but also globally, we really need to tackle this as a nation and as a team across the whole supply chain and engaging consumers as well,” she said.

“It’s exciting times to sort of take a snapshot of where we are now and envisage what we could achieve.”  ABC © 2018 ABC

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