Study into why $5 billion worth of food wasted each year
Published on 04 March, 2013
CQUniversity is part of a major research project investigating why Aussies throw away nearly 50% of the food they buy, wasting $5 billion and creating 3 million tonnes of garbage each year.
Early findings show Australians are huge wasters of food but have little idea how wasteful they are. Food waste is a term that does not register with most.
The $473,000 Zeroing in on Food Waste project is jointly funded by the Australian Research Council, Zero Waste SA and the Local Government Association. In-kind support is being provided by UniSA, Flinders University and CQUniversity through a series of PhD studies.
CQUniversity researcher Dr Kirrilly Thompson*, the Project Coordinator, recently spoke about the project in the Zero Waste SA magazine Focus.
"Among the preliminary findings are that few people think they waste food because they simply do not have a sense of what they could be saving," Dr Thompson said.
Dr Kirrilly Thompson
"There might be 50 ways you can waste food but they might only be aware of five. If they are addressing those five they think they're not wasting anything. It's like a glass ceiling."
Dr Thompson said the research had also revealed that anti-waste campaigns should take care using terminology because the phrase ‘food waste' fails to resonate with people.
"They're familiar with terms such as peelings, scraps and leftovers but don't necessarily relate this to wasting food," she said.
According to Focus, the three-year research program will produce guidelines on intervention, communication and public education strategies to address current barriers and to better engage the public in reduction strategies.
Focus reports that the program was due to finish at the end of 2013 but strong interest from additional PhD students means ‘bonus' results will continue to be fed back to program partners for an additional three years.
* Dr Thompson is based at CQUniversity's Appleton Institute in Adelaide.