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What is food waste?  

Food waste is any kind of food that ends up in the garbage bin.

There are two main kinds of food waste: avoidable food waste and unavoidable food waste.

Avoidable food waste

This is food that is thrown out that could have been eaten. This includes excess leftovers, food that is past its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date, or food that has gone off or mouldy.

This also includes a lot of foods which many people throw away which are actually full of nutrients and can be a great ingredient in a delicious meal – such as broccoli stalks and some vegetable peels and leaves.

Check out our Smart Cooking guide to get the most out of your food.

Unavoidable food waste

This is food that is thrown out that could not have been eaten. This includes foods such as egg shells, bones, fruit and vegetable pips and stones, tea bags and coffee grounds.

Even though these foods aren’t edible for us, they can be delicious food for worms! Check out our Smart Composting guide for ideas to reduce your unavoidable food waste.

How much food are we really wasting?

Each year in Victoria, we throw out 250,000 tonnes worth of food - which is more than enough wasted food to fill the Eureka Tower

This includes:

  • 64,500 tonnes of bread, pastry and biscuits – the equivalent weight of more than six Eiffel Towers
  • 51,000 tonnes pre-prepared or home cooked meals – the equivalent weight of 29,000 hippos
  • 13,500 tonnes of uncooked meat and fish – which weighs as much as 750 buses
  • 35,000 tonnes of dairy and eggs – which weighs as much as 175 blue whales
  • 12,500 tonnes of rice, pasta and noodles – enough to fill 1100 garbage trucks
  • 31,500 tonnes of fresh vegetables – which weighs as much as 5,800 elephants
  • 6,500 tonnes of fresh salad leaves – which weighs as much as 2,800 rhinos
  • 4,500 tonnes of canned and frozen vegetables and salad – which weighs as much as 24 whales
  • 22,500 tonnes of fresh fruit – which weighs as much as 10,000 small trucks
  • 1,000 tonnes of processed fruit – which weighs as much as 30 trams
  • 5,000 tonnes of cakes and other desserts – enough to fill 36,000 bathtubs
  • 4,500 tonnes of condiments and sauces – which weighs as much as 50,000 fridges
  • 3,000 tonnes of confectionary or snacks – which weights nearly as much as 900 family cars

How much money are we wasting?

This adds up to $4 billion worth of food which is being wasted across the state each year. This means that each year the average Victorian household throws out approximately $2,000 worth of food.

Based on a weekly spend of $207, this would be enough to feed 367,000 families for a year!

How much of our waste is food?

In Victoria, approximately 50% of the contents of our garbage bins is made up of food waste.

Half of this (25% of the contents of our garbage bins) is avoidable food waste – food that was purchased with the intention of being eaten but was instead discarded.

Food Know How can help you learn how to reduce the amount of avoidable food waste you throw out through Smart Planning, Smart Shopping, Smart Cooking and Smart Storage and to make the most of your unavoidable food waste through Composting and Worm Farming.

For more Food Waste Facts, visit our friends at the Love Food Hate Waste Victoria website.