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Sydney’s food waste reaching new heights

Food waste in Sydney is at record highs. Credit: Wikimedia commons



Wastefulness and Sydney have become synonymous, where food waste, in particular, has become an increasingly difficult issue to solve.


According to the NSW government’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ report, $1,036 of food is being thrown away yearly by the average Australian in New South Wales in spite of two million people relying on food banks each year, calling for urgent action.


Jenny Leong, the NSW Greens MP for Newtown says that although some residents of Sydney want to see change with Sydney’s growing wastefulness, there is still a long way to go.


“The issue of food waste and waste, in general, is a huge challenge we need address across the community…It’s something that I think there is a lot more we can be doing in the inner city of Sydney and I think that there is real desire for people to see this addressed,” she said.


Ms Leong highlights the importance of sharing community initiatives, either from the council or organisations like foodbank, for Sydney residents to take part in creating an environmentally friendly city.


On the 19th of July, a public meeting, held in Marrickville, had an open discussion which called attention to concerns from Sydney residents about Sydney’s growing food waste.


Cypress Bartlett, an advocate for the end to food waste, attended Wednesday’s meeting and notes that residents of Sydney are unaware of their food waste because of the “disposable” nature of society.


“Residents who waste food, who don’t realise it, would have a disposable income…thus, food waste is not a big issue in their weekly budget,” he said.


Mr Bartlett also believes any waste is a national issue, saying, “Wastefulness in developed nations is horrendous. The average Australian wastes $1000 of food per year.”


According to Food Wise, “Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase,” throwing away $8 billion of food every year.


Suji Jadhav, the Acting Program Manager of the Green Living Centre, a resource centre that educates on how to reduce food waste in Australia, thinks Sydney residents are still unaware of the impact of food waste.


“They are not aware because they don’t care. Or they have other things to worry about, or they don’t know how to tackle the issue. A lot of what we hear is it’s “too hard” or “I’m too busy,” she said.


Ms Jadhav highlights the high production of food waste in Sydney will ultimately lead to waste being transported out of Sydney, contributing to higher greenhouse emissions.


“Between 40 and 50% of a typical household’s red bin is food waste. This food goes to landfill where it breaks down and turns into methane gas and leachate, Sydney…has finite landfill space and we have less than ten years of landfill space left,” she said.


A recent ABC program, “War on Waste” highlights the damage that is caused by waste on the environment, another way Australian citizens are becoming more aware and educated on the negative effect of waste in Australia, and by extension the environment of the planet.


Fiona Nern, a spokesperson for OzHavest, believes educating Australians on the impact of food waste is the solution, saying, “If we find more ways to connect people to the production of food and understand the resources, land, water and energy that goes into it, they will begin to realise the true value of food and may not be so quick to waste it.”


The decision to eliminate single-use plastic bags from the stores by Woolworths and Coles highlights a national change to create an environmentally friendly nation is occurring.


However, Jenny Leong believes government action is critical for significant change to occur, saying, “What is clear is that we actually need government led responses to be able to support and help this, whether that’s through local council, state…or federal government initiatives.”


“We’ve seen with the move around pushing the state government for the ban of plastic bags where they have remained silent on that issue and kept their heads in the sand on it. What we need to see is actual real change so that it’s not just about individual choice, it’s actually about changing the way that we approach these things so that it is not acceptable for us to have this level of waste,” she said.


The latest ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ report conducted by the New South Wales government, “shows 97% of people in NSW practice at least one food avoidance behaviours and that the concern about food waste is on the rise.”


Ms. Nern believes change is possible through education, “The more people that know and care about the issue, the more we can help to eliminate hunger and food waste, as well as save our environment.”

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