Household Food Waste

Skip bin full of food scraps for recycling © Planet Ark

Food waste can be divided into three categories: avoidable food waste (food that could be eaten); potentially avoidable food waste (food that could be eaten but is not commonly consumed e.g. pumpkin skins); and unavoidable food waste (food products that cannot be eaten).

The Problem

Australian households throw out enough food every year to fill more than 450,000 garbage trucks. This food is worth A$5.2 billion!

  • Food waste makes up over one-third (35%) of household waste.
  • When food ends up in landfill, it rots in the absence of oxygen and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
  • Around one third of the world's agricultural land is used to produce food that is subsequently not eaten. The resources like water, fuel and fertilizers used to grow that food are therefore wasted.

The Revolution

In 2009-10, there were more than 187 food scrap and garden cutting processing facilities in Australia, handling around 211,000 tonnes of food scraps.

  • Collecting food waste for recycling can reduce the impact of landfill levies on councils and help meet the waste diversion and/or resource recovery targets set by most state and territory governments in Australia.
  • A recent review of ten Australian kerbside food waste collection trials and services found that the services collected an average of 1.8kg of food scraps per household per week and achieved a participation rate of 66%.
  • 24% of Australians put their scraps in a worm farm or compost bin, 10% feed their scraps to chickens or other livestock, and 13% use a council-operated food waste recycling service.

Join the Revolution!

worm farm


  • Visit RecyclingNearYou and do a location search to find out if your council offers a kerbside food scraps collection service. If there's no service yet on offer, set up a compost system, worm farm or Bokashi bucket at home. You could also contact your local community garden to find out if you can contribute food scraps to their composting system, or ask any neighbours with chickens if they could use extra scraps.
  • If you're a business that regularly or occasionally has leftover food to dispose of, contact one of the many food rescue organisations now operating around the country. OzHarvest, Second Bite and FoodBank are three national organisations, but there are also many smaller, local services available. Some organisations may also accept leftovers from private events such as weddings or parties.

You can download the full Recycling Revolution Report below.

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