Forum calls for a Zero Food Waste Day

November 21, 2014

A food waste forum hosted at Murdoch University and held in collaboration with Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, has called for a Zero Food Waste Day to be recognised on November 14 each year.

Chair in Biosecurity and Food Security at Murdoch University, Professor Shashi Sharma, said that food waste is unacceptable and that people did not realise the scale of waste taking place.

“Food loss and wastage are causing serious, social environmental and economic concerns worldwide,” Professor Sharma said.

“The developed world is living in an era of surplus and cheap food, yet 900 million people go hungry each day in developing countries.

“One third of the food produced on the planet is wasted, but more than 60 per cent of food waste is avoidable.”

Professor Sharma said the cost of the food waste in Australia is approaching $25 billion per annum.

“Western Australian waste to landfill is estimated at over six million tonnes per annum with 20 to 35 per cent being food waste,” he said.

“We need to minimise the waste and utilise waste by turning it into energy.  More processing options are needed including composting, anaerobic digestion, fermentation and energy production in line with suitable environmental outcomes.”

Forum participants agreed that strategies were needed to create awareness of the problem and to minimise waste in the future.

“There was overwhelming support for a Zero Food Waste Day to be held each year on November 14,” Professor Sharma said.

“We want people to participate by choosing to have smaller helpings, clear their plate and not throw any food waste in the bin. We also want producers, wholesalers and retailers to minimise waste in the process of getting food from farm to fork.”

Murdoch, Curtin and the University of WA have already agreed to support a Zero Food Waste Day and other stakeholders on a local, national and international level will be approached to be involved.

Other outcomes of the forum included:

  • The expansion of the Zero Food Waste Group to include not only Murdoch representatives but other stakeholders.  The Group will develop strategies to prevent, minimise and recycle food waste in Western Australia;
  • The development of a website that will educate value chain participants and households on food waste reduction strategies; and
  • The need for research and development to prevent food loss throughout the food value chains from field to fork.

A detailed report regarding the forum agreements is being prepared and will be available in mid- January.

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