The Government has announced funding aimed at reducing food waste, which – according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2021 Food Waste Index – is well on the way to becoming a billion-tonne problem around the globe.
In this country, we have a Love Food Hate Waste campaign run by Councils nationwide. Its activities are based on research that included surveying 1,365 New Zealanders, examining the contents of 1,402 household rubbish bins and giving 100 families diaries to record food disposal for a week.
Among the findings:
- Kiwis spend an estimated $872 million a year on food that is thrown away uneaten.
- We dump over 122,547 tonnes of food a year – enough to feed around 262,917 people.
- The average household sends around 79 kilograms of edible food to landfills every year.
The UN environment agency’s 2021 Food Waste Index found an estimated 931 million tonnes of food around the globe ends up in the trash every year.
Most of that figure, 569 million tonnes, falls under the category of household waste. The food service and retail sectors account for a further 244 and 118 million tonnes, respectively.
On a per capita basis, the average global household wastes 74kg of food each year. NZ is an above-average performer, on that measure.
According to an article in Forbes which steered us to the data, the latest figures recorded by UNEP show the scale of the problem has been dramatically underestimated – the global waste at consumer level is more than twice as high as a previous FAO estimate.
The index notes that if food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
The British-based OLIO website (focused on food reduction) provides these figures:
- All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe. Ref
- An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- 5. 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- Reducing food waste is the #1 solution to the climate crisis, according to Project DrawDown – coming above electric cars, solar power and plant-based diets.
- 2.3 billion people are joining the planet by 2050 – this will require a 60-70% increase in global food production. Or we can just stop throwing away our food!
This suggests Environment Minister David Parker should be focused more on food waste than some of the other stuff that keeps him busy in his portfolio.
He does have it on his “to do” list and – most appropriately, in the case of leftovers, scraps, slops and what-have-you – he is in charge of a trough designed to tackle the problem.
Yesterday he announced funding amounting to $1,562,262 for five lucky trough dippers. The sums ranged from $67,012 to $850,000.
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The Government is funding five projects to help address the growing problem of food waste this year, two of them food waste and three compost projects, through the Waste Minimisation Fund.
- KiwiHarvest will receive $153,000 for its three new sites.
- 0800 Hungry Ministries in Christchurch will receive $67,012 to replace 15-year-old delivery vans used in their food rescue operations.
- Community Compost Ltd will receive $92,250 to expand current composting operations in Nelson.
- CBEC (Community Business and Environment Centre) EcoSolutions that operates in Northland will receive $400,000 to install 12 community composting hubs and 1,200 home composting systems.
- BioRich Limited in Napier will receive $850,000 to expand existing composting operations in Hawke’s Bay.
“We continue to support organic waste projects to meet emissions reductions targets. It is one of our investment signals for the current 2021 funding round and further applications are still under consideration,” David Parker said.
“To address food waste, we need to look into ways of redistributing or reusing edible surplus food, as well as ways to divert inedible food from landfill. These projects support both.
“By funding such projects we’re making strides towards a low waste, low emissions circular economy.”
The Government is contributing a further $1 million to help the flood battered Buller community.
The Buller council has been providing services to around 2000 people affected by the fierce downpour and expects continued support, especially for those unable to return to their homes, is likely to be needed for at least another fortnight, and possibly longer.
This includes providing accommodation, food, and water in addition to assessing other more specific needs.
The latest contribution is part of a larger scale cross-agency response to the flooding on the West Coast and in Marlborough, which is also in line for further support with welfare costs.
It follows a previous Government contribution of $300,000 towards a Buller Mayoral Relief Fund, another $100,000 towards the Marlborough Mayoral Relief Fund, and $200,000 for affected farmers and growers.
Moreover, Associate Housing Minister, Poto Williams this week announced the Temporary Accommodation Service was being tapped to enable flood-hit residents on both the West Coast and in Marlborough to access help to find a temporary place to stay.