Too good to waste: circular food systems



10.30-12.00 NOON

Food waste is one of the great challenges of our time.

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Australian households throw away around $8 billion of food annually. Most of this still ends up in landfills, where it breaks down into the potent greenhouse gas methane.

This session will explore best practice in reducing food waste globally, and Australian initiatives to get organic material out of landfill to where it can create economic and environmental value.

Kat Heinrich is a Senior Consultant at Rawtec and Chair of the International Solid Waste Association Young Professionals Group. She will share examples of best practice food waste initiatives in cities across the globe. Drawing on case studies from Milan to Malmo, San Francisco to Sao Paulo, Kat will identify key factors behind successful food waste programs, legislation, community education and engagement.

Dylan Gower will share on the central NSW community enterprise CLEAN Cowra Inc. Based in the food bowl of Australia, this regional community is aggregating their agricultural, industrial and municipal biomass 'waste' to produce their own energy and fertilisers. By shifting spend from purchasing and transporting energy and fertilisers and removing waste, to investing in a local circular food system, they are creating jobs, increasing energy security and reducing their carbon footprint. 

Preet Brar will share the innovative and diverse ways in which Veolia is contributing to a circular food cycle by regenerating resources through the biocycle. From insect bio-conversion where biowaste is used to produce high value insect proteins for animal feed and organic fertiliser; to state-of-the-art mechanical and biological systems converting organic waste to compost for soil regeneration; and through active involvement on the strategic advisory panel to the federal government's Food Waste Strategy, Veolia is committed to building resilient and circular systems.

Peter Wadewitz has been at the forefront of composting in South Australia since the 1970s. With increasing power prices, Peats Soils has seized the opportunity to implement an anaerobic digestion facility. The power is used to run administration buildings and reverse osmosis, pellet, granulating and biodiesel plants – enabling the family company to expand its operations with a secure energy supply. Best of all, the remaining organic material can then be used on the compost wind rows to further enhance the microbial activity and nutrients in the compost – producing even better soil enhancers and conditioners for the agricultural sector.