Wednesday, 29 September 2021
A nation-first voluntary agreement involving some of the country’s largest food companies highlights the release of a major new strategy to help Australia combat its $36.6 billion annual food waste problem.
Stop Food Waste Australia’s (SFWA) 2021-25 Strategic Plan details how it will work with its industry, government and food rescue partners to help Australia achieve its goal of halving its food waste by 2030.
Established in January 2021 with funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, SFWA is part of independent non-profit company and charity, Fight Food Waste Limited, which also operates the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre.
In launching the plan on the United Nations’ International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste today (29 September), SFWA Chief Executive Officer Dr Steven Lapidge says by halving the 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted every year, Australians will save money and cut greenhouse emissions.
“The 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted by Australians each year is enough to fill the MCG to the brim nearly nine times over, and that costs our economy $36.6 billion a year,” Dr Lapidge says.
“This has flow-on effects for the environment, generating 17.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions annually, representing nearly 4% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. And it comes at a time when one in five Australians are food insecure, and food charities have seen an average increase of 47% in demand for their services in the last 12 months.
“Food waste is a critical issue that impacts all Australians, and the new Stop Food Waste Australia Strategic Plan provides a clear roadmap for the collective action required for Australia to halve its food waste by 2030.”
One of the four major components of the Strategic Plan is a Voluntary Agreement, which brings together organisations from ‘farm to fork’ across the Australian food industry.
Known as the Australian Food Pact, it will be launched on 21 October by Federal Environment Minister, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, and will feature some of Australia’s biggest food organisations and retailers.
SFWA Chief Operating Officer Mr Mark Barthel, who has led similar voluntary agreements internationally, says the Australian Food Pact will be a game-changer for reducing food waste in Australia.
“Other countries, such as the UK, have successfully implemented similar agreements and achieved excellent results,” Mr Barthel says.
“Signing up to the Australian Food Pact represents a multi-year commitment for the businesses who grow, make and sell our food to develop solutions and implement change at scale.”
Mr Barthel says the Australian Food Pact also represents the collaborative nature of Stop Food Waste Australia, with partnerships underpinning its success.
“Stop Food Waste Australia is committed to working with Federal, State and local governments, as well as peak industry bodies and leading food rescue organisations around Australia,” Mr Barthel says.
“Stopping food waste in Australia represents a significant challenge, one that’s too big for any one organisation to solve. For Stop Food Waste Australia, we recognize that these partnerships with the Government, industry and food sectors are vital to us meeting our food waste targets as a country.
“We look forward to strengthening our existing partnerships, and forging new ones, as we work across all levels of the Australian food industry to meet our goal of halving food waste in Australian by 2030.”
The other three key areas of action in the Strategic Plan are: Sector Action Plans (which provide targeted attention to food waste ‘hotspots’); communication, engagement and partnering for impact; and monitoring and reporting.