A variety of fresh produce

About food waste

When we throw away soggy salad leaves or spoilt cream, we’re also throwing away our money and the effort it took to get that food into our homes. It’s also bad for the environment.

We love our food, and no one wants to waste it, but it happens when we cook too much, buy too much or leave it in the fridge for too long.

In NSW, more than a third of the waste generated by households we send to landfill is food. It may seem like we only throw out small amounts every now and again, but all that food adds up. Imagine $965 being thrown in the bin. That’s how much food the average person each year, as outlined in the 2021 Australian household food waste report.

Of course, some food waste is unavoidable. Things like bones, shells, teabags, coffee grinds, eggshells, fruit and vegetable peels, pips and stones can’t be saved. But some food waste is avoidable. It usually happens when we buy too much, cook too much or don’t store food correctly. By making a few simple changes at home, we can reduce food waste, eat well and save money.

Facts and stats

According to the National Food Waste Benchmark data, 1.7 million tonnes of food is wasted in NSW each year. Households are the largest contributor of that, accounting for 688,000 tonnes of food waste annually.

Food loss on the farm is also a significant contributor, accounting for 392,900 tonnes a year. Approximately a third of food businesses waste is food and it is estimated that food waste costs the average aged care facility $1,000 a week.

Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) NSW has been tracking NSW household attitudes and behaviours about food waste since 2009. The latest survey shows we care more about food waste, are more aware of the problem, but also continue to waste food because it is difficult to avoid it.  The LFHW program is supported by the NSW Government to educate households and business about ways to reduce food waste. By following our programs tips, hacks and advice, households can reduce food waste by an average of 40% and businesses 21%.

Why food waste matters

Wasting food doesn’t just waste your time and money, it also impacts the environment. That’s because when food breaks down in landfill, it generates methane—a greenhouse gas that’s 25 more powerful than carbon dioxide and a major cause of climate change.

Food sent to landfill also releases nutrients that can filter through the soil and waterways, polluting the environment for generations to come. When we throw away food, we’re also throwing away all the natural resources like water and energy that went into growing, packaging, producing, transporting, selling and preparing your food.

By 2050, it’s expected that the world will need to produce twice as much food in a climate that may be vastly different to today. 

The good news is that we can all be part of the solution, by making simple changes at home and work to reduce the amount of edible food we throw away. The NSW government is also helping the community reduce food waste through support for more food donation, kerbside recycling services and processing infrastructure. 

When unavoidable food scraps like eggshells and bones are recycled through commercial processing systems, the compost can be returned to land where it improves soil health, boost crop yields and improve water retention.


Useful links


Sign up to our free six-step Food Smart online program and get fun and easy food-saving tips, activities and recipes delivered straight to your inbox. Finish the course and receive a bunch of Love Food Hate Waste goodies to help you keep food fresher for longer and out of the bin.