Monday, 12 November 2018

National Recycling Week - OzHarvest Fight Food Waste Event

As part of National Recycling Week 2018 (12-18 November), the ACT NoWaste Education team is running a series of events to show the behind-the-scenes of recycling and resource recovery in the ACT, and to raise awareness of the various services offered in the ACT. The series of events and open days can be found on their website, and are listed here:

  • 12 November – Fight Food Waste
  • 14 November – Residential Recycling for Strata Managers
  • 14 November – ABC Canberra radio's Lish Fejer is broadcasting from Recycling Discovery Hub, 1.45pm – 4.00pm. Tune in to 666AM to listen. 
  • 14 November – Corkhill’s Green Waste Recycling centre open day
  • 15 November – Fighting Fast Fashion
  • 15 November – Soft Landing Mattress Recycling
  • 16 November – Container Deposit Scheme’s Return-It Depot in Fyshwick open day
  • 12-18 November – Green Shed Mitchell

OzHarvest's Fight Food Waste "wasty" recipe cards

Today (12 Nov) I attended the Fight Food Waste event, where Dave Burnet, ACT Territory Manager for OzHarvest, gave an eye opening, and sometimes hard-to-fathom-statistics talk when detailing the work that OzHarvest has done over the last ten years.

Dave started by providing a number of mind-boggling statistics relating to food waste, and the growth of OzHarvest in Canberra:

- OzHarvest opened their first office in Sydney, and their second office was in Canberra which opened in 2008. Back then, they collected 1,500 kilos of food per week in Canberra. Fast forward ten years to 2018, and in just the month of October 2018, they collected 50 tons (yes, 50 TONS) of food in the ACT alone. 68% of this was fresh food and vegetables.

- OzHarvest Canberra supports over 70 charities, with currently 12 more on the waiting list.

- OzHarvest currently has 3 vans, and soon a truck will be joining the fleet.

- 1 in 5 groceries bags of food purchased is thrown away due to waste. This amounts to nearly $4000 per year, per household.

- Globally, one third of all food produced is going to waste.

OzHarvest Canberra collect from every single Woolworths supermarket, most Aldi stores, Costco, some IGA stores, Qantas and Virgin catering, and the Farmer’s Markets. They also accept ad-hoc and once-off donations from local food producers. They don’t pick up from Coles supermarkets, as Coles partners with food rescue provider Second Bite. Nor do they pick up from restaurants as chef’s manage their food supplies very well, using up excess where they can. They also don’t pick up a lot of bread, as they would be swamped with bread from local bakeries. They have to say ‘no’ to buffets and the like that have excess food, as that has been exposed to the public and is not packaged. They only accept in-date food, and food that is clear of any visible deterioration.

Dave Burnet

A couple of the really interesting food rescue stories Dave told us were:

Local Gunning based egg producer, Bumnuts Australia, contacted OzHarvest and said they had a few spare eggs. Turns out the ‘few spare eggs’ were 17,100 eggs due to fluctuations in their suppliers orders at the time!  As Dave said, you can’t turn off a chicken, so they kept on laying! I’m sure all those eggs founds wonderful homes through the charities.

Another story involved a truck driver, delivering oranges from the Riverina. He had to brake hard in his journey when a car cut in front of him, and as a result all his load shifted forward slightly. Not so much as to damage the fruit, but it did cause a tear in each of the large bags that the oranges were in. Just enough to compromise the load, and reject it by the customer at its final destination. OzHarvest to the rescue! They managed with their 3 vans to secure almost half a truck load of the oranges. As Dave said, no one in Canberra got scurvy that week!

As a final thought… food for thought as they say… Food is precious. Dave made the analogy of “you wouldn’t throw away a diamond or an emerald… so why do we throw food away, as its just as precious”.  It really makes you think that we consider so many resources dug up from the ground (think iron ore, uranium, copper etc) as valuable commodities, but don’t put the same emphasis on saving food grown from the ground.

OzHarvest cotton grocery bags

Head to OzHarvest’s Fight Food Waste website to learn more strategies to reduce food waste at home, at work, and at school. Especially good are the Look, Buy, Store, and Cook guides. There are also a ton of resources like meal planning guides, and "wasty" recipes to help repurpose leftovers to reduce food waste.

Leave me a comment with your go-to ideas for reducing your own food waste.