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Reducing our food wastage

Think local

Food wastage contributes to a loss of money for households, more greenhouse gas emissions, and a huge increase in unnecessary landfill.

As members of Shore Regional Organisation of Councils (SHOROC); Manly, Warringah, Pittwater and Mosman councils have recently been involved in the launch of the Too Good to Waste campaign. The councils are now engaged in drafting an overarching waste strategy that will involve a combination of community-based and infrastructure solutions for the region.

NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes says it's important to work towards the ambitious goal of diverting 75 per cent of household waste from landfill. "It really shifts from waste being a burden to being a resource and looks ahead to 2021 to reuse, recycle and recover our valuable resources," he simply states.

Of the $8 billion worth of edible food that is thrown out each year in Australia, $2.6 billion is fresh food, $2.1 billion is leftovers, $1.17 billion is packaged food, $727 million is frozen food and $566 million is attributed to takeaway food, according to not-for-profit organization  DoSomething!

Tina Jackson, who is co-founder of the organisation, says statistics show young consumers aged between 18 and 24 years are among the biggest wasters of food, yet a lot of waste is also occurring in households with incomes of more than $100,000 per year and families with children.

When food rots with other organics in landfill, it gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 per cent more potent than the carbon pollution that comes from car exhaust. There is also a hidden impact involved - the wasting of the water, fuel and resources it took to get the food from the paddock to the plate," Ms Jackson says.

Mosman councillor Tom Sherlock tells Peninsula Living the new SHOROC initiative aims to educate residents about better food management and discipline.

"People are buying a lot more fresh food, and also buying a bit less, more often, which is great, but unfortunately the waste is still high," he confirms.

He says in the near future, councils will supply bins where food waste can be segregated and collected. Angus Harris, the co-CEO of Harris Farm Markets, says his company is working towards a more sustainable future by selling "imperfect" produce.

"We are working with the farmers to ensure food produce does not get thrown away or put into landfill because it is not 100 per cent perfect" he says. Warringah mayor Michael Regan agrees that food wastage is a huge issue and says Northern Beaches councils will always band together to address it.

"The Northern Beaches councils want to help local residents save food, money and resources for a more sustainable region and world," he tells Peninsula Living.

"You may think you can't make a difference, but remember that around 20,000 tonnes of food waste is sent to landfill each year from the Northern Beaches region.

"This is made up of food from our homes, so what we do at home is critical to making a big difference." Education campaigns that show how easy it is to have a sustainable approach to food planning and waste reduction are available to everyone through the councils and Kimbriki Recycling and Resource Recovery Centre.

Pittwater Council has a number of programs in the pipeline for 2015. It is undertaking a waste audit of Pittwater bins to determine what food is being thrown out, hosting waste reduction workshops by Tuckshop Workshop for parents, subsidising the purchase of compost bins and worm farms, and continuing its Love Your Leftovers cooking demonstrations.

Manly Council has recently been crowned most sustainable city in NSW, in recognition of many of their progressive efforts. This includes their sustainable kitchen workshop, which has provided residents with tips on correct food storage, meal planning and recipes on how to use leftovers, and composting workshops. The council is also in the process of developing new food waste avoidance initiatives for 2015.

Rebecca Jones has held a number of demonstrations on behalf of Pittwater Council, providing amazing recipes from leftovers.

Cooking exhibitions like Ms Jones', offer ways to cut down on your food waste and weekly shopping bill by transforming leftover ingredients into delicious dishes.

Ms Jones's recipes are also available online as part of the Love Your Leftovers campaign - visit recipe_book.


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