5 ways to save money and reduce food waste

By Jennifer McMillan 6 November 2020

The average household spends $1,026 on food waste each year! Now, think of your waste bin at home – how much of it is food?

Australia is the fourth highest producer of food waste in the world (only the USA, Canada and Belgium waste more), with $10.1 billion worth of food was wasted in 2019. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind the USA and China. The average household spends $1,026 on food waste each year! Now, think of your waste bin at home – how much of it is food waste? Research shows up to 50 per cent of the general waste bin is food waste.  

Why is food in landfill a problem?  

Food waste that ends up in the general waste bin is destined for landfill. Landfill is an anerobic environment, meaning it lacks oxygen. When food waste ends up in landfill it breaks down and releases methane –which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2

Composted food waste has a huge potential to combat climate change. An aerobic environment (compost) avoids methane production and when used in agriculture and horticulture, it captures atmospheric carbon and stores it in soil which improves plant growth. 

Food waste is one of the three key material areas for this year’s National Recycling Week and we’re calling on all Australians to reduce their food waste at home, school, work or in the community. You’ll not only help the planet, you’ll help your wallet too.  

Here are a few ways to enhance your food waste journey: 

1. Search RecyclingNearYou  

Search RecyclingNearYou to find out if your council offers a kerbside food scraps collection service. If there's no service yet on offer, set up a compost system, worm farm or Bokashi bucket at home. You could also contact your local community garden to find out if you can contribute food scraps to their composting system or ask any neighbours with chickens if they could use extra scraps. 

2. Have a waste-free lunch challenge

We have developed a waste-free lunch challenge to minimise waste from school lunches. This is designed for school children but there’s no reason why the whole family can’t get involved! Learn more here.

3. Invest in the right storage

There’s an art to storing fruit, vegetables and herbs, and when done correctly it will ensure you get the most out of your food. Oxygen, moisture and heat are the main causes of why food goes off. Keep it fresh with these storage hacks.

4. Download the ShareWaste app 

If you live in an apartment or don’t have the space for a compost or worm farm, there are still plenty of options. The ShareWaste app connects people who wish to recycle their kitchen scraps with their neighbours who are already composting, worm-farming or keep chickens. 

5. Buy fruit and vegetables in season 

They’re often less expensive and fresher! Educate yourself on what’s in season before you head to the shops and make a list. 

For more information and tips on how to reduce, reuse and recycle your food waste, click here. Share your waste journey with us, tag @planetark on Instagram and use the hashtags #NationalRecyclingWeek and #BeyondtheBin. 

Jennifer McMillan
Jen worked as a vet nurse while studying environmental science and completing her master's degree in Journalism. She loves bushwalking, storytelling, caring for baby animals, Australian birds and river red gums. Jen works on the National Tree Day campaign and Planet Ark's Seedling Bank.