Aussie industry joins forces with Mark Barthel for food waste reduction roadmap

The food waste industry has partnered with international sustainable food systems expert Mark Barthel in a bid to build a food waste reduction roadmap.

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), along with Woolworths and Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL), have brought in Barthel to Australia to develop a solution for the growing problem, as Woolworths says $20 billion of food is wasted every year in Australia.

This upcoming strategy could impact players in the food packaging space, encouraging them to improve their packaging solutions that increase the amount of food that gets on to plates, while also making them environmentally friendly.

Barthel, who comes from the UK, brings along a 25-year track record of fighting food waste and has worked alongside brands such as Tesco, Amazon, Walmart, Marks & Spencer and Nestle, and international organisations like WRAP, the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the FAO.

“It is an exciting time to be working with Woolworths, CRC and FIAL to develop a food waste reduction roadmap,” Barthel said.

“Although only three per cent of national food waste is attributed to supermarkets, they still have a critical role to play in engaging with their customers about how they can make the most of the food they buy.

“Woolworths is at the forefront of educating customers around minimising food waste via their Food Savers program and they have also made commitments themselves with 100 per cent of their stores now with a food waste diversion program in place.

“I am excited to be working closely with Woolworths to develop a roadmap that will see them engaging with suppliers, customers and community partners to work together to tackle this issue.”

According to a recent Australian National Food Waste Baseline report, Australia sees 7.3 million tonnes of food wasted each year, with nearly half of this ending up in landfill.

“Preventing food waste entering landfill in Australia would be the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road in terms of its environmental impact,” Barthel said.

“There is a huge role for businesses to play in reducing food waste along the supply chain, and in addition to working on a roadmap for Woolworths, I’m also going to be working with FIAL to establish a voluntary agreement program with Australian businesses as part of the National Food Waste Strategy.”

FIAL general manager Mirjana Prica said Barthel’s experience in setting up the UK’s Courtauld Commitment improved resource efficiency and reduced waste within the UK grocery sector.

“His expertise will help us go a long way to building a roadmap for reducing food waste in the country,” Prica said.

“We look forward to working closely with [Mark] so we can continue to improve on our food waste reduction journey to bring real benefit for our customers, farmers, suppliers and community partners,” Woolworths head of sustainability Adrian Cullen said.

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge added that the partnership will make the issue solvable.

“Food is meant to be eaten and I haven’t met anyone yet who does not feel guilty about wasting food. So, this is a solvable global challenge, one that all of us here at the Fight Food Waste CRC, Woolworths and FIAL are committed to tackling,” Dr Lapidge said.

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