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Food waste research

What food do we waste? And why do we waste it?


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About food waste

Vegetable peel and leftover vegetables

Food waste is a big problem - it is the single largest component of household bins in NSW.

More than 800,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by NSW householders each year – that is 315 kilograms of food waste for each household going to landfill or 38 per cent of your kerbside garbage bin! A further 340,000 tonnes of food is throw away by businesses in Sydney alone.  NSW, therefore, throws away over 1.1 million tonnes of food each year.

By wasting food – fresh fruit and vegetables, leftovers, takeaways, packaged and long-life products, drinks and even frozen food – the average NSW household throws away $1036 a year.

By being less wasteful, you can save money and reduce your impact on our environment. Love Food Hate Waste is about providing you with practical tips and tools you can use every day like planning your meals, preparing a shopping list, and learning how to best store your food.

Food waste is a big problem – it is the single largest component of the household bin in NSW – over a third of all waste. How does your household measure up?

What do we waste?

In NSW, we throw away $2.5 billion worth of edible food a year.

Here is what we are throwing away:

  • $848 million of fresh food
  • $694 million of leftovers
  • $371 million of packaged and long-life products
  • $231 million of drinks
  • $231 million of frozen food
  • $180 million of take-aways

In Sydney alone, the University of Western Sydney estimates that the $1 billion worth of edible food thrown away each year is equivalent to the income of all farmers in the Sydney Basin.

Why do we waste?

Food waste is one of the most wasteful forms of consumption in Australia.

Research shows we commonly waste food in our homes because:

  • we cook too much food
  • food goes off before the use-by/best-before date
  • we forget about leftovers in the fridge or freezer
  • we don't know how to use leftovers
  • we buy too much because we don't stick to a shopping list
  • we don't check the cupboard or fridge before going shopping
  • we're not planning our meals and menus as much as we could.

Other reasons we waste food are family members changing plans, not following the recipe correctly, and buying takeaways at the last minute.

Food waste research

Statistics relating to food waste knowledge, attitudes and behaviours cited on this web site are derived from a study of 1,200 households in NSW, performed by Woolcott Research for the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW) in December 2009.

View the complete results of the Food Waste Avoidance Benchmark Study 2009 or download the report summary – available in full colour and in black and white.

Research papers listed below support the need for education on reducing the amount of food wasted. These papers focus on community knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around waste, food and consumption.

Contact us if you are interested in more research publications.

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