While many are starving in other parts of the world, Australia wastes $8 billion worth of food every year. According to a national campaign by non-profit organisation, Foodwise, Australians waste a staggering amount of $8 billion worth of edible food each year. The amount is twice the commitment of the Australian government to foreign aid.
OzHarvest, a charity that collects food from companies or businesses that would otherwise be thrown away, gave a similar figure with $7.8 billion a year.
FoodWise based its figure on a food waste avoidance study conducted by the NSW Government while OZHarvest's source is FoodWise. The NSW government study in 2009 used an online survey completed by 1,200 residents aged 16 and older. The results showed that the average NSW household discards $1,036 worth of food every year.
Respondents of the survey were asked to provide a dollar estimate for each type of food they buy for the household but ended up discarding them.
The NSW government study found that people aged 18 to 24 in households with average income of more than $100,000 throw away the most food. Australians throw away food left in the freezer or fridge for too long, including unfinished meals.
FoodWise took the NSW government figure which is $1,036 and used it to multiply with the total number of households in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 7,760,320 households in Australia.
Other studies have shown smaller figures, but researchers said they were only conservative estimates. According to Christian Reynolds of the Food Waste Project Team in CQ University, the calculation of FoodWise is safe since she said NSW data should be treated as middle ground based on household recycling practices.
Food discarded by households is only a part of the total food waste in Australia. There are several stages in which food waste occurs. Food waste may be generated from agricultural production, farm gate and finally the consumer. Consumers can either be supermarkets, industries and residential consumers.
ABC has investigated the accuracy of the $8 billion food waste claim and concluded that the figure matches available research studies. However, the $8 billion is only applicable to household food waste. When combined with commercial waste from supermarkets and restaurants, the figure will still increase.
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