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Our food waste is taking its toll on the planet, and our bank accounts


Baskets of vegetables on bench: FarmersMarkets_GettyImages_738x410.jpg Image: GettyAustralians wasted $8.9 billion worth of food in 2018. That's $890 wasted per household.

A shocking report released today by Rabobank reveals just how much food Australians are wasting each year, and what this waste is costing our bank balances and our planet. We threw away $8.9 billion worth of food in 2018, which is $890 worth of food straight in the bin for each individual household. While this figure is grim, there is one positive note from the report – our food waste has decreased by $700 million from the year prior. But clearly, there's still a lot to be done.

One factor that is increasing the amount of food wasted is online meal delivery services like UberEats, Menulog and Deliveroo. The research by Rabobank found people who use these food delivery services waste 15.2% of their food, compared to people who don't use these services wasting around 8% of their food. The report even found that people who shop online for their groceries are also more likely to waste food. It found that even those who do just 20% of their grocery shopping online wasted a huge 19% of the food they buy.

The number one reason why Australians are throwing their food away is that it goes off before it can be eaten. Other key reasons for waste are that people are buying too much food to begin with, that the food isn't as good as they were expecting or that we're not planning our meals out well enough before going grocery shopping. Whatever the reason may be for wasting food, it's having a huge effect on not only our bank accounts but also our planet.

Not only are we wasting money, but our natural resources too.

The Rabobank Financial Health Barometer report revealed how our bad food wasting habits are negatively impacting the environment, and are wasting our precious natural resources. According to the report: "If food waste were a country, it'd be the world's largest contributor to climate change."

The amount of water used to grow the food that we wasted in 2018 is equivalent to 4,400 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. And this is just water use for the wasted food. We're also destroying huge amounts of forest so that we have more space to grow the food that we ultimately don't eat. The report found that we're cutting down six soccer fields worth of forest every single minute to grow the amount of food that is wasted by Australian households.

On a global scale, one third of the food produced all over the world is wasted. Australia is doing pretty poorly compared to other nations, and is ranked as the fourth highest food waster in the world. Head of client experience at Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Glenn Wealands said the problem will only get worse with the increased population.

"As our population increases we will struggle to feed additional mouths. If we don't curb our waste, we could run out (of food) by 2050. While it is pleasing that Australian consumers are wasting less food compared to 12 months ago, there is clearly much to do to raise awareness about food production and waste and more urgently implement better practices to reduce waste, while also improving the finances of all Australians," he said.

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