Australia Markets closed

Australia going backwards on food waste

Alex Druce
The average Aussie household binned $1,026 worth of food over the past year, a 15% rise on 2018

Australian households are going backwards on food wastage, with excessive ordering and the rise of meal delivery services pushing the amount thrown away by $136 over the past year.

The average Australian household now throws away an average $1,026 worth of food per year - a 15 per cent increase from $890 last year - and bucking a trend of two consecutive years of waste reduction.

The nation's total food waste bill is now $10.1 billion, the highest in four years of data collected by the Rabobank Food Waste report, cementing Australia in the top five most wasteful nations in the world.

Rabobank Australia's head of customer experience Glenn Wealands said Aussies are now wasting an average of 13 per cent of their weekly grocery spend while less than three out of 10 recognise the impact our food waste has on the environment.

"As individuals, each and every one of us can and must make a difference," Mr Wealands said in releasing the annual report on Wednesday.

"When we waste food, the ramifications go far beyond just dollars, impacting our planet and precious resources."

Consistent with previous years, Rabobank said the main contributor to household waste was food not being prepared properly, leftovers going uneaten, people buying too much, and people changing plans after doing their shopping.

Rabobank said consumers are also finding new ways to waste food, with the rapid uptake of food delivery services linked to increasing food waste habits.

Gen Z - people aged under 24 - remain the most wasteful generation, binning $1,446 of the food they purchase every year, up $234 from 2018.

Baby Boomers remain the least wasteful of all Australians, throwing out only $498 of their food.

Food waste increased across all Australian states over the year, though Queenslanders have been keeping the closest eye on their habits.

Food waste in Queensland increased by just 0.5 per cent, with Western Australians the next most diligent in their habits as their waste pile increased by 0.9 per cent.

Victorians were the worst offenders, with the state's annual waste climbing by 2.6 per cent to make it the most wasteful jurisdiction in the nation with 13.9 per cent of food being thrown in the bin each year

In terms of total waste, the Northern Territory was the most frugal with just 10.4 per cent of their food being chucked out.

People living in capital cities waste 14 per cent of their weekly shop, compared to people in rural areas who only waste 11 per cent.

Mr Wealands said there was reason for hope despite the mounting garbage pile.

He cited organisations such as OzHarvest, Foodbank and Yume which committed to fighting food waste, and said there were lessons to be learned from other countries.

"We can definitely learn from best practice in other countries, for example, governments in Italy and France banned supermarket food waste in 2016, legislating that unsold goods must be given to food banks or charities," Mr Wealands said.

"Ultimately, there must be a highlighted sense of urgency now, given we're wasting more than ever before."