Australians waste 20 percent of food they purchase. Cafes and restaurants throw away similar amounts: nearly a quarter of food they buy ends up in the bin.
The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) is taking leadership on this issue. They’re running Love Food Hate Waste NSW to help households and businesses to reduce their food waste. The results are impressive, particularly for their program targeting cafes and restaurants.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Kane and Elizabeth Craggs from the NSW EPA to find out about their approach and outcomes.
Here are some key takeaways. You can listen to our interview further below.
Your Business Is Food program:
- The NSW EPA runs a program called Your Business Is Food program to help food businesses reduce their food waste.
- Participating cafes and restaurants have reduced their food waste by 21 percent on average.
- Often these businesses generate food waste due to a lack of communication between front and back-of-house staff. For example, chefs may not see what’s left on the plates by customers and therefore don’t realise that their portion sizes are too big.
- The key to the program’s success is getting businesses to measure their own food waste. They’re asked to sort it into three categories: spoilage waste, preparation waste and plate waste. This has been a real eye-opener for businesses on how much waste they’re generating and where its occurring.
- After measuring their waste, businesses are provided with information on practical actions and support on how to reduce their food waste.
- The NSW EPA is also connecting restaurants with food rescue organisations to donate their excess meals. For example, the Hilton Hotel in Sydney is now donating leftover food from their breakfast buffets to a nearby charity for the homeless.
Food Smart (household) program:
- Often people waste food due to modern lifestyles with dual working households.
- The NSW EPA runs a program called Food Smart to help households reduce their food waste and save money.
- The program helps households to measure their food waste and gives them a kit of materials and simple tips to reduce waste.
- Key to the success of the program is “nudging” participants with email reminders to keep them motivated and on track.
- Another success factor is providing participants access to an online community to make them feel like they’re part of something bigger.
- Lastly, keeping messaging simple and positive is the key to driving behaviour change.
- Imagery of ordinary food (like bananas going brown) is much more effective in communicating messages about food waste than stylised ‘fancy’ food.