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ABC’s War on Waste wrap up (series 2, episode 3)

Here is the War on Waste wrap up from episode 3 (series 2) aired: 7 August 2018

Click here to view the episode.

Plastic Free Produce

…speaking of wrap up, the issue of food wrapped in plastic was explored with writer and #PlasticFreeProduce Campaigner Anita Horan. Craig joined Anita and a group of people to carry out a plastic attack on local super markets @Aldi and @Woolworths. Plastic packaging was removed from products and left at the store in protest.Plastic Free Produce Anita Horan

Almost all produce was packaged in plastic. Examples included apples cut up and wrapped in plastic, apples in tubes, bananas and celery as well organic and The Odd Bunch produce wrapped in plastic. Apples and bananas do not need packaging.  Anita stated that “there needs to be a more sustainable way to differentiate between the different types of produce and consumers need to be given a choice between packaged and non-packaged items.” “It can also lead to more food wasted as consumers don’t have a choice of the amount of food they purchase. If they only want 200 grams, but can only buy 500 gram container, then food can be wasted”  One of the responses from @Coles and @Woolworths has been that the packaging is recyclable through the Redcycle bins, however it is much better to avoid it in the first place than recycle it.

As Craig said ‘We need to put pressure on our supermarkets and tell them you don’t want or need unecessary packaging”



Circular Economy

Craig then spoke with WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan about the need to create a circular economy. China’s push back has given us the opportunity to create our own industry and jobs here in Australia. With 10 jobs created for every 10,000 tonnes of recycling.  Gayle stated that 95% of all packaging is single use. If we were to make sure 10% of packaging was made from recycled product then this would drive some dramatic changes. We need Policy drivers to support this change. Gayle advised that “as consumers we also need to put the pressure on supermarkets to reduce packaging as well as food waste”

Food Waste

Food waste stats

5.3 million tonnes of food waste is sent to landfill every year. This equates to 220kg per person. 2.2 tonnes of this comes from the commercial and industrial sector. This includes supermarketsrestaurants, cafes and food courts.

Food waste stats2

Dianne McGrath –RMIT University

Dianne’s study into food waste found that 29% of Aussies are leaving food on their plates when they eat out.  “We are torn between the guilt of leaving food and shame of asking for a doggy bag.  Some people think it is illegal, however there is legislation saying we have the right to take the food home.” Dianne said.  She also mentioned her experiment of #platediving and being able to feed herself for a week purely from eating people’s left-over food.

food waste from commercial sector stats40% is wasted in food preparation, 2% is spoilage waste, 58% is plate waste, or uneaten food left on the plate.

DeGraves Street Melbourne

In Melbourne, the Degraves Street Recycling Facility takes food waste from laneway cafes and restaurants and turns it into wastewater. Coffee grounds are dehydrated and used as a soil conditioner. 700kg of waste was being sent to landfill everyday.

The underground recycling facility services just over 100 shops. The project is a joint project between Melbourne City Council and City wide. Cafes and Restaurants separate into 3 bins; food waste, coffee grinds (which makes up 40% of what they collect) and recyclables.

Picture14Since launch in 2013 it has diverted 392 tonnes from landfill. In just one year 130 thousand kilograms of food waste was diverted. Several pickups are made to businesses each day. Aerobic processor turns it into waste water and breaks it down within about an hour. Waste water is extracted where elements are used to create biogas.  The hope is to spread to other food precincts and apartment housing.

3.1 million tonnes of food waste is generated from households every year. We need food and garden organics/FOGO collections for all households. More than 20 thousand more tonnes of food waste is going into landfill than plastic waste.

Penrith City Council

Craig does some inspections of kerbside FOGO bins in with Kate Bradshaw from Penrith Council. Their FOGO system has saved $17 million in rates since being implemented. #nofoodtolandfill

Craig questions Minister Josh Frydenberg about getting all Councils on-board with providing a FOGO service.  He responds saying that this needs to be managed at a State Government level.  They also discuss how government is reviewing current recycling practices her in Australia and has set targets to achieving 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.


E-Waste is revisited with Craig further investigating where his old computers have ended up after dropping them off for recycling. One seems to have been taken, fixed and is being reused by someone in Macleay Island, off the coast of Brisbane. The second one ends up at a recycling facility called MK-TNR which MRI reassured Craig was a legitimate, accredited recycler who is audited.  Jim Puckett from the Basel Action Network conducted a similar experiment 6 months ago to find not so favourable recycling practices with items ending up in Thailand.


The #Strawnomore campaign doesn’t seem to have taken off all that well in various pubs in Belmain Sydney. However @Grill’d was more promising as they will stop supplying straws and only have them available to people with a need for a straw due to disabilities.

Kiama High School 

Kiama HS waste saved statsCraig then revisited Kiama High School to find that they had dramatically reduced their waste through a few actions in the canteen including introducing recyclable packaging, removing cling wrap from biscuits and cakes and slushy cups now use biocups and paper straws, although they are not preferred. As Craig put it “It just took a change of consciousness and change in habits”

People often ask Craig if doing the War on Waste has been depressing, he responds saying that “in some ways it has, however it has also been uplifting and encouraging to see there are so many solutions out there and that people are making some dramatic changes and reducing their waste” He hopes that “in twenty years from now we will look back and think how ridiculous it is to be burying recyclables and food waste. Until then we need to keep pressure on our supermarkets, businesses and politicians to implement real long term solutions that mean we can win this war on waste.”