Weak governance and lack of investment hindering Australia’s fight against food waste

Food industry and trade Waste management Waste minimization Australia

One-third of all the food that the world produces is lost or wasted, despite growing environmental and population pressures on farming systems to produce more food and the prevalence of global hunger. Food loss and waste is also responsible for eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and significant economic losses. These factors would indicate that the fight against food loss and waste is now as important as it has ever been.

The Australian Government has taken preliminary steps towards measuring the country’s food waste and implementing a strategy to support halving this waste by 2030. The National Food Waste Strategy and the National Food Waste Baseline acknowledge that food waste is a significant problem in Australia. Australians wasted 7.3 million tonnes of food in 2016/17, which translates to 298 kilograms of food wasted per capita in that year. Despite large amounts of food waste and opportunities to tackle waste at all points in the food chain, the Australian Government seems reluctant to provide strong leadership or appropriate funding. It is also unclear whether any of the goals of the National Food Waste Strategy will be completed by the target date of 2030.

Although the Australian food and agricultural context differs from many of the countries successfully fighting food loss and waste, such as France or Denmark, the Australian Government should draw from the experiences of those countries if it is serious about solving the problem. Better-performing countries demonstrate strong leadership and collaboration between the government and food waste organisations, as well as much higher levels of investment into finding solutions. If the Australian Government is serious about tackling food loss and waste, it should consider demonstrating similar levels of commitment.

Key points:

  • One-third of all of the food produced globally is lost or wasted, causing significant economic, environmental and social issues.
  • Australia has made a commitment to halving its food waste by 2030.
  • Despite that commitment, the Australian Government has provided little funding or leadership towards reducing food waste.
  • While the Australian food context differs from many of the countries that have performed well at reducing food waste, strong leadership and high levels of funding have been a major factor in food waste reduction.
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