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Woolworths moves towards zero food waste

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The man who forced French supermarkets to donate unwanted food wants to take the law global, but it may not be necessary in Australia.

France’s “zero-tolerance” law banning supermarkets from destroying unsold food and forcing them to donate it to charity has ignited the food-waste discussion in Australia.

“We need to look at what has occurred in France to try to address this inequity and waste,” said RMIT’s Dianne McGrath.

McGrath is conducting Australia’s first national survey Watch My Waste to measure food waste in the hospitality sector and says the average Australian household throws out about 20 per cent of the food they buy from supermarkets, greengrocers and other stores.

“[This] is equivalent to one in every five bags of groceries or $1,036 per household annually,” McGrath said.

“While a number of supermarkets donate small amounts of still consumable food to food rescue organisations such as FareShare, Foodbank, OzHarvest, and SecondBite to help feed the hungry, too much perfectly good food is thrown in supermarket dumpsters every day.”

But Woolworths and ALDI are already working to reduce food wastage.

Woolworths has a policy of moving to zero food waste to landfill by the end of this year.

“We work with various food charities around Australia (including Foodbank, Ozharvest) to provide food to those in need,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

“Where food cannot be used by those charities, we have a number of options including use as fertilizer and as animal feed including partnerships with some zoos. We have other smaller scale projects including electricity production.

“We also try to ensure our purchasing from farms does not create excess waste. We buy just enough to ensure we have stock for our customers while having the minimum possible left over. We are working with farmers to use more of their crop through our "Odd Bunch" produce lines. These are fruit and vegetables that might not be perfect looking but are still great to eat. We offer these at a substantial discount to our customers.”

Similarly, ALDI Australia said it’s committed to minimising food wastage.

“We have a number of processes and policies in place to ensure that very little food sold on our shelves ends up as waste,” an ALDI spokesperson said.

“On a national level, ALDI donates food no longer suitable for sale but within its use-by date to Foodbank and OzHarvest, helping to provide quality meals for people in need. In 2014 we donated 990,688 kilograms of food to OzHarvest, which equates to 2,972,064 meals. Donated food includes, fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy, raw meat, drinks, desserts, pastries and dry goods.

“Over the past five years, we have donated 369,177 kilograms of food to Foodbank, the equivalent of 492,236 meals.

“As well as our national partnerships, we also donate to local community groups where an ALDI is present.”

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