12
Aug

Food waste - why should businesses be concerned?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Whether you are simply looking to tick the right boxes to ensure you are compliant with government sustainability standards, or you’re looking to differentiate your company through thought leadership and green initiatives, food waste recycling needs to be on your radar.

With new evidence and messages appearing constantly, it’s hard to know what being sustainable means, and what worthwhile, viable changes we can make to achieve it both individually and as a community.

So why is food waste management such an important opportunity?

To start, since food is essential to all humans, we can all find ways to be more sustainable with it at home and in the workplace.

Secondly, when we waste food, we’re not just wasting the product, but also all the resources used that contributed to it arriving on our plate, including;

  • The fuel used to transport it
  • The land it was grown on
  • The water that sustained it
  • Nutrients used to cultivate it
  • The energy used to preserve, refrigerate, and/or package it

Lastly, the waste of those organic resources is only half the problem. Food scraps, once thrown away, are a major source of greenhouse gases that are damaging the earth’s atmosphere, so the impact is twofold.

The big picture - food waste and the Australian economy

Each year, households in Victoria dispose of 250,000 tonnes worth of food, while across Australia, 8.2 million tonnes of food waste is generated each year. And if that’s not bad enough, sending all that food waste to landfill costs the economy an estimated $20 billion a year.

Once in landfill, food scraps break down, and as they do so they produce greenhouse gases that affect air quality and negatively impact public health. Currently, the yearly total of greenhouse gases caused by food waste in Australian landfill is equivalent to the emissions of our steel and iron ore industries combined.

On a global scale, the UN has reported that food waste accounts for about 3.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, if food loss were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter, only exceeded by China and the United States.

In response to increased global awareness of the need for food waste recycling and reduction schemes, organisations are joining the charge in taking action.

How can I begin reducing the impact of food waste in my organisation?

Get on the same page

Whatever approach you take to the task, success will depend on getting the whole team on board with it. Educating everyone who is responsible for food handling about the damage caused by food waste as well as the wider implications is essential, so a great first step is to get the team together and talk about it. Here’s a handy summary from the government’s Department of the Environment to start the conversation.

Take ‘waste’ out of the equation

There’s a good reason the saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ has survived for centuries.  The best way to improve wastage of food is to not waste it to start with. Raising awareness is the first step towards this. The next is to identify problem hotspots - where is food waste occurring, and is it avoidable? Making an audit of the business’s logistics and systems may bring to light efficiencies that weren’t visible before. The solution may vary according to the organisation, but the results will be targeted for you, and worth it.

Turn the ‘waste’ into a win!

Prevention isn’t always possible, or viable. In these cases, the next best option is to create new value from the organic waste that would otherwise be worthless.

A great way to approach this is to make sustainable fertiliser from food waste - bypassing landfill and the associated negative impacts, and instead creating positive environmental outcomes, such as

  • Nutrient rich soil for plants and the ecosystems that depend on them
  • Better soil structure and condition, including moisture-retention
  • Reducing the need for man-made chemical fertilisers
  • Increasing overall yield of crops
  • Preventing methane from entering the atmosphere

Installing a worm farm or compost bin in the workplace, especially near where food may be exposed, may not be advisable. Thanks to the increasing demand for sustainable tools for handling food and organic waste recycling, there are now plenty of hygienic, easy-to-use, cost-reducing solutions available. Food waste machines are an excellent option for reducing negative impact on the environment as an organisation. The models that Eco Guardians offer produce Soilfood, a nutrient-rich organic soil enhancer with proven results, forming a closed-loop recycling system that gives back to the environment.

Knowing your own workplace environment and being able to identify opportunities for improvement is crucial for sustainability. With that in hand, it’s a simple matter to work with experts trained on finding the best commercially viable and sustainable outcomes. As a specialist food waste company, Eco Guardians provide food waste solutions that are tailored to an organisation’s needs.

For more tips and insight into how you can make your organisation more sustainable, get in touch with one of our consultants here.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

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Food Waste

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