How to recycle food waste

Organic waste is a major problem for the environment. According to the 2020 National Waste Report, Australia creates 13 million tonnes of CO2 as a result of organic waste going to landfill. This organic waste is primarily made up of food and garden organics, timber and biosolids, and equates to around 3% of Australia’s total emissions.

A major way we can all start to help tackle this problem is to look at ways to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste. 

Throwing food in the bin not only deprives somebody of a meal, but when food is sent to landfill it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more harmful than CO2. This is because when food waste rots and degrades in a landfill environment, there isn’t enough air and natural bacteria to break it down, so it decomposes at a much slower rate. 

We thought we’d share a few tips and tricks for things you can do at home with your food waste, so it doesn’t end up in the bin!

Only buy what you need and what you want

You don’t need to restrict what you want, as long as you don’t buy more than what you need. Plan out your groceries ahead of time to portion out your meals; this could save you money and cut down on food going unused. For those times that you don’t manage to make it through everything, it’s always best to freeze food.

Start a worm farm

Vermicomposting, otherwise known as worm farming, is an easy way to start recycling food waste at home. Worm farms are small and easy to store in your home, balcony or garden. You can buy one at your local Bunnings, along with a big bag of compost, a container to store your compost in, and of course a bag of worms.

While 1000 worms is the recommended starting colony size, your farm’s size and worm count will depend on the size of your household. You can feed your worms fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells (though they can take a while to break down, as they also like dry leaves and newspaper). Find everything you need to know about worm farming here.

Start home composting

Compost bins can come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on where you live and how much room you have. You can buy a variety of composts secondhand from Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or brand new from your local Bunnings, along with a bag of manure.

To get started, all you’ll need is to collect is the materials below in a bucket, and mix together once you’ve gathered enough. Read our step-by-step guide on starting a home compost, then start collecting materials including:

  • Fruit scraps 
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells (though they can take a while to break down)
  • Grass and plant clippings
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Straw
  • Sawdust from untreated wood

Look into neighbourhood composting

There are some amazing online resources for connecting people across cities and towns to recycle organic waste. You can sign up to Share Waste or Positive Waste to check local collection and drop off points in your area!

Check if your council accepts organic waste

Some councils do offer food waste collection. It’s always worth checking your local councils’ website to see if they do pick up at your address, or registering your interest and encouraging others in your area to do the same.

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