100% of Woolworths supermarkets now claim to be with an active food waste diversion partner.

Woolworths eliminates food waste from its supermarkets

In a bid to tackle the $20 billion food waste problem in Australia and its commitment to reduce food waste from going to landfill, Woolworths has announced that 100% of its supermarkets now have an active food waste diversion program in place.
From rescuing surplus fresh food and distributing it to hunger relief charity partners, donating stock feed to farmers or sending it for commercial organic composting, all Woolworths supermarkets nationwide now have at least one active food waste diversion partner in place.
With these programs in place,  Woolworths has recorded an average year-on-year reduction of 8 per cent in food waste sent to landfill over the past three years.
Woolworths head of sustainability Adrian Cullen said: “Food is meant to be eaten, not thrown – which is why together with our customers, our farmers and our community partners, we’re working to keep good food out of landfill.
“This is not a new journey for us – we’ve been working hard at this for the last decade and we are excited to hit a milestone ahead of World Environment Day that 100% of our stores now with a food waste diversion program in place.
“We heavily invested in our team members to ensure that they have the education, training, resources and equipment to better identify and divert surplus food that can no longer be sold away from landfill and toward the most beneficial stream – be it food rescue for hunger relief, farmer donations for animal feed or commercial composting.”
In the last year, Woolworths has diverted from landfill over 55,000 tonnes of food and enabled over 10 million meals to be delivered to Australians in need across the country.
Adrian Cullen said; “Working with our partners OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed Australian’s who would otherwise go hungry is our number one priority when it comes to diverting food from our stores,
“We then work with local farmers so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as stock feed for animals or for on-farm composting. This helps us further reduce and re-purpose bakery and produce waste.”
To date over 750 farmers and community groups from around the country have joined the Woolworths Stock Feed for Farmers program and last year Australian farmers received more than 32,000 tonnes of surplus food from Woolworths that is no longer fit for human consumption.
Owner of Tasmania Zoo Rochelle Penney has been part of the Woolworths Stock Feed for Farmers program since the Zoo opened its doors 15 years ago.
Ms Penney said: “Our team collects several bins of unsold surplus fruit, vegetables and bakery products that are no longer suitable for sale, every day from our local Woolworths stores to supplement feed for our animals.
“With over 100 different species of animals, all with variable nutritional needs, the support we receive from Woolies through the Stock Feed for Farmers program is invaluable.
“The program is enriching the lives of our animals and providing them the experience to taste a wide variety of produce.
“Importantly, the savings we make through the program enable us to continue our important conservation and education work which includes breeding programs and caring for a number of critically endangered native and exotic species.”

The skies are getting greener

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is contributing more to greener skies by further reducing food wastage on board, cutting back on the use of plastics for in-flight items and increasing the use of sustainable ingredients in in-flight meals.
“We are proud to have embarked on a new era of greater sustainability, with an enhanced focus on environmentally responsible practices on board that will significantly reduce our carbon footprint and improve sustainable travel of our customers,” said SIA’s senior vice president customer experience Yeoh Phee Teik.
Cutting down on food waste
SIA currently employs customer surveys, data analytics and staff feedback, and works with its caterers to reduce food wastage after flights.
The airline plans to automate data collection and further leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to better predict customers’ consumption patterns and further reduce cabin food waste.
Through an improved monitoring system of customers’ consumption patterns and data analytics, SIA will be able to better adjust the quantities of certain food items uplifted to minimise wastage without compromising on customer service.
Reducing use of plastics in-flight through alternative sustainable materials
SIA is also committed to reducing the use of single-use plastics with alternative sustainable materials for more in-flight items.
The airline aims to become entirely plastic straw-free by September 2019. Since September 2018, SIA has removed all plastic straws on board, apart from children’s straws. The latter will be substituted with environmentally friendly paper straws. These changes will reduce about 820,000 plastic straws each year. The airline also has plans to replace its current plastic swizzle sticks with wood-based ones by September 2019.
From May 2019, SIA will also be replacing polybags from children’s toys with recyclable paper packaging.
Several of the airline’s paper products, such as menu cards, tissue paper and toilet rolls, are made with FSC-certified paper, which have been sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Other upcoming green initiatives include the printing of children’s colouring books and activity kits using eco-friendly soy-based ink.
Sustainable food sourcing
Expanding on the airline’s ‘From Farm to Plane’ concept introduced in 2017, which promotes environmental sustainability and supports local farming communities, SIA will be embarking on an exciting new collaboration with AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm of its kind based in Newark, United States.
Produce at AeroFarms is grown indoors without soil, pesticides or sunlight, using AeroFarms’ award-winning aeroponic technology.
“As vertical farms are not weather dependent but operate under a controlled environment, crops can be grown year-round, thereby increasing the amount of sustainable produce to support more of the Airline’s needs,” Mr Yeoh said.
Aerofarms will provide a customised blend of fresh produce for SIA’s Newark to Singapore flights from September 2019.
“Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested only a few hours before take-off – literally the world’s freshest airline food,” said SIA’s food & beverage director Antony McNeil.
SIA through its catering partner SATS currently sources certain types of produce from two local farms for flights departing Singapore. It plans to work with SATS to identify local vertical farms to work with.
Other ingredients obtained from sustainable sources include selected locally farmed fish from fisheries that are certified by Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).

Cold group formed

Australia’s first advocacy group to improve compliance and standards in the handling of food at all levels of the cold chain has been established at a meeting in Queensland.
The inaugural session of the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) on 7 August 2017, brought together an impressive cross section of the heavyweights in manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
Against a mounting background of community pressure about the costs and environmental damage of food wastage, this new Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
Interim chair Mark Mitchell, a cold chain service provider with a cold chain research and validation facility in Queensland, said: “The new council is not about promoting an industry – we want to change the industry for the better.
“One of our priorities will be to apply whatever pressure is needed in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold chain food handling are properly followed,” he added.
“There’s lots of rhetoric in government programs, associations and among food handlers and suppliers about commitments to food waste reduction and cold chain compliance, but little, if nothing, is being done at any level about improving the cold chain, and ensuring that standards are followed. Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect,” Mr Mitchell said.
The interim directors of AFCCC are:

  • Stephen Elford         General Manager Australia New Zealand, Carrier Transicold
  • Mark Mitchell           Managing Director, SuperCool Australia Pacific Pty Ltd
  • Peter Lawrence        Technical Director ANZ, Thermo King
  • Kyle Hawker             Transport Manager, Simplot Australia
  • Adam Wade              National Transport Leader, Lion
  • Kevin Manfield        General Manager Products & Markets, MaxiTRANS Pty Ltd
  • PLUS a nominated person representing the transport industry

Food waste is a massive problem for Australia. On average, Australians waste 860kg of food per person annually. It’s not just the food, but this means that all inputs into food production like the water, soil and energy are also wasted. On top of that, it means less food available to feed the hungry.
It’s estimated that 5 per cent or more of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food wastage.
“Australian industry,” Mr Mitchell said, “is well placed to attack this issue. Performance across the cold food chain can be improved with better equipment and handling processes as well as with improved monitoring and assessment to determine where the weaknesses lie.”
In investigating the food cold chain in Europe, Deloitte estimated that for every unit of energy and dollar invested in expanding the food cold chain the return to investors was tenfold.
“As an industry, as a society, we simply cannot afford to waste such an opportunity,” Mr Mitchell said.
The AFCCC believes that Australian industry has the tools, technologies and workforce that can reduce food waste by improving the cold food chain. It is in this spirit that these leading companies have signed up as inaugural members of the AFCCC.
The new advocacy group’s first priorities will be contributing to both the development of the National Food Waste Strategy and becoming part of the CRC designed to address food waste and fraud.
Those interested in joining the AFCCC or learning more about it, can email AustralianColdChain@gmail.com.
 

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