The way we grow, make, buy, eat and store food is far from perfect. Food waste is a massive issue government, regulators and industry would love to solve, given that it costs the Australian economy $20 billion a year.
2019 stats from the National Food Waste Baseline say the average food business throws away 100kg of food and we send around 7.3million tonnes of food waste to landfill each year – that’s an average of 300kgs of food waste for each of us. The Economist’s Food Sustainability Index doesn’t rank Australia particularly well, either.
The United Nations says one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted while more than one in nine people go to bed hungry. What a waste of resources, huh?
Governments and industry are working to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030, but it’s also important to recognise the food system champions using technology, social enterprises and good old-fashioned smart thinking to improve our food supply chain in innovative ways.
Appetite Communications took a look around to find five emerging Australian businesses and social enterprises paving the way for better ways to deal with food waste.
1. ShareWaste helps connect composters with food scraps
Over a third of household waste in Australia is food, usually because we buy too much, don’t cook it before it goes off or simply have to throw out the inedible bits like watermelon skin or eggshells.
Back in the days when everyone had a backyard, people used to compost their food scraps, however with the rise of apartment living and less time spent in the garden, composting is becoming harder.
Enter ShareWaste, an app that connects people with food scraps with the people that can use them – that means living in an apartment is no longer an excuse not to compost. The app works through an interactive map where those who want to donate scraps can find those who want to receive them. It’s an easy way to connect those passionate about reducing food waste.
2. Bring me Home helping restaurants sell their food waste at a discount
Bring Me Home is an app that connects food outlets with customers to allow them to buy discounted surplus food from nearby cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and supermarkets. Food service and retail outlets waste huge amounts of food daily – Bring Me Home provides a solution to this wastage by offering the food at a discounted rate – it’s a win-win situation. Businesses increase their revenue at the same time as reducing wastage, and consumers get good quality food at a cheaper price.
At the moment, Bring Me Home is only available in Melbourne and it’s working to increase the range of partners it brings on.
3. Grainstone converting spent grain from brewing beer into healthy flour and snacks
Grainstone has turned Australian’s love of beer into an opportunity to reduce food waste. Brewing in Australia produces 250,000 tonnes of spent grain each year, most of which is sent to landfill. However, this brewed grain is actually nutritious and full of protein, fibre and micronutrients.
Grainstone rescues spent grain from brewers across Australia and turns it into a high protein and high fibre flour for use in baking. Watch this space – they are in the process of creating a range of snack products made with this flour.
4. Yume connecting wholesale suppliers and food buyers
Yume is an online marketplace where wholesale suppliers can list their quality, excess stock at discounted prices for food businesses or manufacturers to buy. Let’s say a supplier has dried cranberries that are no longer required as this product line is being deleted, a muesli manufacturer could ‘rescue’ this excess stock for a price cheaper than usual.
The products listed on the platform range from seafood and meat to dried goods such as spices and teas, as well as prepared foods such as hash browns that may be useful for hospitality businesses. To date, Yume has saved over 1.2 million kg of food from going to landfill. It’s another win-win tool to help with our food waste problem.
5. Reground is creating a sustainable waste collection for coffee grounds
Founded in Melbourne in 2014, Reground saves coffee grounds and coffee bean chaff from ending in landfill by creating a waste removal service for cafes and coffee roasters that’s usually more affordable – and sustainable – than commercial waste solutions.
Cafe owners empty their coffee waste into plastic bins that are collected and then delivered to keen gardeners and composters who love using the carbon-rich material.
“Traditionally the waste industry is lazy and not innovative. They want people to put everything in the same bin, and it does not work for the planet and it doesn’t even work for people. You can actually save more money by separating waste and keeping things in single streams,’ says Reground founder Ninna Larsen.
“The beautiful thing we are pushing for is innovation. We have connected with different people who want to use coffee grounds to grow mushrooms, make skincare products and one person even wanted to use it to make cement.”
Reground is expanding to collect soft plastics and hopes to grow beyond Melbourne to other major cities.