Discover a world of solutions at AWRE 2022

As the premier business event for the waste, recycling and resource recovery sector, AWRE returns to the ICC Sydney this 24 – 25 August.  AWRE provides a platform for the best to come together and join forces for a world of solutions towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. Read more

Sodexo gets on board food waste wagon

Sodexo, a company that specialises in quality of life services, has pledged to purchase at least 75 tonnes of surplus food by August 2021, through Yume’s surplus food online marketplace, as part of its ongoing efforts to lead the charge in corporate sustainability.
Yume’s online marketplace allows suppliers and buyers to connect with each other to prevent high quality, edible food from going to waste.
Yume food purchases are made by a number of Sodexo’s mining villages sites across the country, including Cloudbreak, Degrussa and Karntama in Western Australia, Olympic Dam in South Australia and Tanami in Northern Territory.
Sodexo and Yume first partnered in mid-2018 and Sodexo was the first corporate buyer to make a Yume pledge for future food purchases. Since, Sodexo has purchased more than 115 tonnes of surplus produce through Yume.
“7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in Australia, of which 4.1 million tonnes is from the commercial food sector. Through the purchase of top-quality surplus food through Yume, Sodexo has become a leader in sustainable procurement and given hundreds of businesses a lifeline., said Katy Barfield, Founder & CEO, Yume.

Sodexo’s Tanami Village has purchased 8,123kg of surplus food through Sodexo’s supply chain.
Following a successful trial, Sodexo’s team at Tanami now purchases salmon, export quality pork, diced beef, chicken and more, ordering in bulk and building the products into their quarterly menus.
“We were surprised at how much food would normally have gone to waste. We now purchase almost a tonne of poultry every six to eight weeks that would have otherwise gone to waste. With Yume part of our main supply chain, we’re looking at how we can incorporate even more products as we review our menu each quarter,” said Tristan Allen, Tanami site manager, Sodexo Australia.

Sodexo’s mission to reduce waste extends across its operations in Australia.
The company recently announced it helped reduce the production of regular plastics by 156 tonnes and offset 1,122 tonnes of carbon, as part of its partnership with packaging provider BioPak.
Sodexo has also announced the deployment of its data-driven food waste prevention program, WasteWatch powered by Leanpath, at 140 food service locations across Asia-Pacific, including Australia, by January of 2021.
The WasteWatch program will enable sites to capture food waste data, identify opportunities to reduce waste and drive operational and behavioural changes.
“Collectively, corporate Australia still has a long way to go to achieve environmentally-conscious operations and supply chains. By partnering with providers like Yume, BioPak, and Leanpath we’re taking steps towards a more sustainable future. Our work with our sustainability partners serves as a reminder of the capacity of corporates to contribute to the fight against waste.” said Mark Chalmers, CFO & country president, Sodexo Australia.

Yume and SUEZ strategic partnership addressing food waste

A partnership to tackle commercial food waste in Australia is kicking some major goals by  selling high quality surplus food that might have otherwise gone to waste.

Yume, the leading online marketplace for high quality surplus food, teamed up with waste and recycling leader SUEZ, to offer food manufacturers an option to get a financial return on surplus products.

Katy Barfield, founder of Yume said that they were seeing powerful results using their technology to offer an innovative market for surplus food.

“Several multinational companies who are also SUEZ customers have now listed high quality surplus food on Yume and we are working with them to ensure those products find a new avenue to market and are consumed as intended. These companies join our network of over 500 food manufacturers, wholesalers and importers that list and sell quality stock through our online marketplace,” said Barfield.

The partnership with SUEZ has resulted in the sale of 450,285 kilograms of surplus food which has returned almost $700,000 to these businesses and we are expecting this number to grow as the market adjusts to the coronavirus impact.

These results add significantly to Yume’s growing impact. To date Yume has provided a new route to market for close to two million kgs of food returning over $6,000,000 to Australian businesses and farmers.

“One of the companies, Patties Foods, joined the war on waste and listed a surplus consignment of caramel slices. Yume identified a new avenue to market their caramel slices and sold the product to independent retailers and caterers all around Australia, getting them a great return.

“Importantly, our work together is having a positive impact on the planet. The partnership has saved water and carbon dioxide equivalent to saving the water of 519,560 showers and taking 195 cars off the road for a year and this is just the beginning,” Barfield added.

Justin Frank, chief customer officer at SUEZ Australia and New Zealand, said that the company is committed to working with customers to ensure as much waste as possible is recovered, recycled and treated.

“The benefits of the partnership assist SUEZ’s customers in reducing waste and achieving greater sustainability. Our partnership with Yume aligns with SUEZ’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – SDG 12 – by promoting responsible production and consumption” he said.

Barfield said that Yume is focused on delivering a commercial solution at the top of the food waste hierarchy: avoiding waste and reusing food wherever possible.

“This is an innovative partnership in the fight against commercial food waste, we are looking to prevent 4.1 million tonnes of surplus food from going to waste in Australia every year.

“In 2016-17, a massive 55 per cent of food waste was associated with Primary Production, Manufacturing and Wholesale sectors. 


“This food, produced by Australian farmers and manufacturers, is wasted even before it reaches supermarkets, restaurants or homes,” she said.

Mapping ahead for Australia’s food waste future

Food waste is an issue. It’s a massive issue. It’s something that everybody – from consumers and manufacturers through to primary producers – know about, and want to do something about, but never quite get around to fixing. Everybody can take their share of blame. People cook more than they should, picky eaters leave a lot on their plates, primary producers can cause a glut by overproducing certain crops, while retailers are too fussy about the size and shape of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables.

With that in mind, FIAL was engaged by the Australian federal government to identify the way forward. The resulting “Roadmap For Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030” has now been released. Before being appointed by FIAL, Barthel spent more than 10 years in the UK trying to help reduce that country’s food waste issues. And it has been successful.

“Just one example in the UK, with regard to the commitment there, has been with the whole grocery chain,” said Barthel. “It’s saved consumers and businesses $12bn over the first 10 years of activity. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions incredibly efficiently. There was a 28 per cent reduction in food waste over that 10 years with 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions saved. That is a phenomenal thing to be able to say.”

There are a range of issues that need to be addressed, according to Barthel. The bad news is, Australia is behind the eight-ball compared to the UK and other European countries who, in some cases, have had plans in place for a decade. The good news is, that all of the problems that need addressing are solvable. What is obvious to Barthel and those who are trying to bring the roadmap to fruition is that there needs to be collaboration between all aspects of the industry. And this isn’t just a ‘she’ll be right’ and pat each other on the back kind of partnerships. It needs to be a lot more transparent and tangible. Such as? Take contracts for example, said Barthel.

“The way that some contracts are constructed can be an issue, because often there are quite high penalties for partial non delivery,” he said. “That sometimes drives oversupply without intentionally doing so because people are concerned around contract penalties and things like that. So, they produce more food so there is no shortfall but that means there is leftover supply.”

And that oversupply leads to one of the biggest issues surrounding food waste and something that a lot of retailers are starting to address, is around the stringent standards they put on food, particularly fruit and vegetables.

“I do wonder what the impact of this is [throwing out good food because of their shape],” he said. “In an ideal world, you would like to think that consumers are becoming acceptable to vegetables they might not usually see in the supermarket and they want that product irrespective of what size or shape it is. There is an opportunity to re-evaluate the cosmetic standards of produce between the primary producers and retailers.”

He gives a practical example of how a change can occur with regard to the humble potato. When he was in the UK, one of the projects he was involved with was to do with the potato value chain.

“We were working with one of the major retailers and we had a look at their quality statistics, which showed that they believed the optimum circumference of a potato was 45mm,” he said. “We said ‘Why 45mm?’ They said, ‘That’s the way it has always been’. Again, we said ‘Why?’ It took them a while to find out where the specification had come from and it was written in some time like 1978. There was no agronomic reason behind that circumference. There was no consumer acceptability criteria there or anything.”
Barthel and his team decided to challenge the reasoning behind the standard.

“We thought, ‘What would happen if we reduced the circumference to 43mm?’ We thought consumers would not notice the change. But the farmer did. What the farmer saw was a five per cent increase in utilisation, which was close to $2,000 a hectare.”

Barthel believes it is those sorts of aspirations where savings can be generated and there are some win-wins, not just for primary producers, but for retailers, too.

“We’re asking retailers to question some of the rationale behind these broader quality standards they have,” he said. “They haven’t really seen with their own eyes, themselves, the impact the standards are having on primary producers.”

And that impact can sometimes lead to a double negative whammy at the paddock.
“We see about 31 per cent of food waste appearing in primary production in Australia, and that is about 2.27 million tonnes of food not harvested or ploughed back in,” he said. “And that is to do with economics as well as cosmetic quality standard. What seems to be happening is we have an over production in order for suppliers to hit the retailers perfect quality standard bell curve. And the overproduction itself then depresses the price and to a lot of farmers that means it is uneconomical to get that graded product out of the paddock.”

With the UK model, there were many shifts and changes throughout the past 10 years. That journey took him to a place where supermarkets and hospitality companies tended to have very transactional relationships; very short-term contracts with suppliers.

“In some cases, there were longer, or rolling contracts, for staples like milk and bread and things like that,” he said. “There was a lot of confusion as to what was required from suppliers, as well as at the end of the chain with the supermarkets and convenience stores. What really brought it to a head was that we really moved from a short-term journey – getting away from transactional relationships – to a more strategic food supply relationships, which also meant we had much longer contracting arrangements in place.”

Barthel said it is now not unusual to have 5- or 10-year contracts in place in the UK. He thinks it will lead to long-term, streamlined relationships that will reduce waste. Short-term transactional relationships with suppliers means there is no real incentive for retailers to work differently.

Then there is what Barthel calls the tyranny of distance. A key to food waste reduction is also the ability to extend the shelf life of products. However, that is compromised in Australia for a couple of reasons. A lot of the primary production is done in rural Australia, and being such a vast and sparsely populated continent means a couple of days in shelf life can be wasted in transit. And the transit itself is an issue, because as far as Barthel can see the country has virtually no cold storage chain. He was at a meeting when he brought up the term and got a surprising response.

“When I recently sat down with the Food Cold Chain Council it was very interesting,” he said. “I use the words ‘food cold chain’ in the meeting. The challenge I got back having used that term, with a few minor exceptions, was that there is no food cold chain in Australia. There is a supply chain that is intermittently humidity and temperature controlled. That shocked me. I hadn’t really appreciated how underperforming the cold chain was. Then I got my hands on a draft study the Food Cold Chain Council was putting together. And the study talks about a quarter of the fruit and vegetables going into the food cold chain being wasted, which is close to $3bn worth of food.”

Barthel said that to address some of these issues, there needs to be be what are called Sector Action Plans. This is where certain aspects of food waste are targeted for attention and actions put in place to improve the situation in a particular sector.

“The first section action plan in the roadmap is to work with food rescue and relief as a sector because what we saw from a baseline study was that less than 50,000 tonnes of food is being rescued a year,” he said. “This is at a point in time where 7.4bn tonnes of food is being wasted. We have to find a way to work with that sector so that we can increase the amount of food that is rescued and therefore not wasted. How do we mop up all that surplus food in the system and give it to the people who need it now?”

The second sector plan is to work with Refrigerants Australia and the Cold Chain Council, on how to improve the performance of Australia’s cold chain so more food can get to market before spoiling.

“How can we get the core temperature back before product is shipped? How can we maintain in-trailer temperature? We have to make sure the refrigeration equipment is being used effectively while the food is in transit,” said Barthel. “The other thing in the cold chain is the human factor. We have to stop people leaving doors open on the back dock of a distribution centre as they deliver a frozen or chilled food order. It might take them 20 minutes on a 40˚C day to unload – you’ve just lost you required -18˚C to maintain that food in the space of 20 minutes because you have left the door open.”

Then there is the voluntary factor. Voluntary commitments are just as important as legislation because it gives a sense of ownership and responsibility to all those involved.
“In other countries, voluntary commitments have worked incredibly well,” said Barthel. “In designing a voluntary commitment program for Australia, we looked at 24 other countries that already have a voluntary commitment program to tackle food waste. Some of the results have been astounding.”

According to Barthel, it is almost important to look at what methods are to be used to change peoples’ behaviour.

“That is what the Road Map is all about,” said Barthel “Behaviour change is hard. It takes a lot of time to get it right and to get moving. Typically, when people throw away food – it’s an unconscious behaviour. We don’t think about it. The first step you need to take is raise awareness of the issue. We are starting that, and businesses are now starting to realise how much food is being wasted.

He points to a recent survey of 5,300 households on attitudes on food waste in Australia by Fight Food Waste CRC. It asked those households what they thought was causing waste in the home and what could be done about it.

“We could see from the answers that there tends to be an understated amount of waste they are throwing out,” said Barthel. “What we could also see was that there was a substantial gap between stated behaviour and actual behaviour. What that means is people throw out more food than they think they do. The good news is that the study also showed the 76 per cent of Australian households are motivated to reduce food waste. And that is something that we can help both businesses and households can build on.”

Packaging industry facing disruptions amid COVID-19

COVID-19 and its impact on the packaging industry has forced consumers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to be more mindful of their safety and well-being. They are likely to change their views about packaging in response to the spread of COVID-19 to protect themselves getting infected by the virus.

Shagun Sachdeva, consumer insights analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, highlighted the key trends and developing insights impacting the packaging industry in the APAC amid COVID-19.

Health and protection over sustainability
Just before the COVID-19 outbreak, sustainable packaging was one of the key challenges on every fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company’s agenda. However, consumers’ sentiment is now significantly shifting to ‘health and protection first’, and this will potentially change consumers’ views on packaging to be more hygiene-focused rather than sustainability.

Packaging in foodservice
As the virus can spread from touch, consumers have been reconsidering their preference for recycled and sustainable packaging; many foodservice chains have already stopped using personal and reusable packaging. Given the current situation, building up capabilities in this area, right from packaging know-how to online ordering and delivery (or using third parties), will  provide the building blocks for the  future growth. Even after the pandemic, consumers will continue to look for the positive food delivery experience they encountered while stuck at home. Hence, operators should look to focus on building better facilities in this area.

Trust and Safety
Issues around eco-friendliness and recycling are coming to the fore. After the initial effects of the pandemic, packaging companies are urging governments to ensure that rubbish collections and recycling are maintained. Due to COVID-19, traditional packaging formats and single-use plastics are receiving a short-term revivified status to ensure the safe and sanitary distribution of vital products.

GlobalData’s COVID-19 week-4 consumer survey shows that almost 43 per cent of Australians agree that they are concerned about the safety of the packaging of the products they purchase. Also, consumers are seeking long- term solutions that also meet the sustainability agenda.

Technology-enabled packaging
The product packaging is crucial for various reasons; customer knowledge is one of its most important factors. With the growing number of COVID-19 positive cases, smart packaging continues to gain traction, as it gives greater transparency. Technology can now be incorporated directly into the product to provide better protection and knowledge to the user. Block-chain technology, QR codes and smart labels are implemented into the packaging sector and can be scanned by smartphone for further product details.

Such systems may also be used not only to ensure product protection and quality, but also to minimise waste and increase productivity in the supply chain. Manufacturers must engage in technologically enabled packaging to gain consumer loyalty.

Sterile and antiviral packaging
GlobalData’s COVID-19 week 3 consumer survey reveals that 70% Indians and 63% Chinese are influenced by how the product impacts their health and well-being. Anxiety to avoid germs and other contaminants leads to increased demand for better packaging. Immediate consequences would be the fear of consumers about the ability of the virus to live on the packaging surface and this would increase the market for sterile and antiviral packaging.

Research is underway into the antibacterial and antiviral polymers and biopolymers packaging – materials that are enhanced with effective, active drug elements and display low toxicity. Demand for these materials in everyday consumer products may rise dramatically after COVID-19.

Commercial opportunities for potato waste

Four of the largest potato producers in Australia want to convert 100 per cent of their potato waste into commercial benefit through their partnership with the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Over the next three years, The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, The South Australian Potato Company, together with Industry Association; Potatoes South Australia Inc, and the University of Adelaide will invest nearly $1m in this research and development to save up to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes currently going to waste every year.

Chief executive of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis, said that this is a fantastic opportunity for Australia, particularly South Australia as it is the largest potato growing state.

“We are seeing up to 40 per cent of potatoes rejected because they do not meet retail specifications. At the same time Australia is importing 20,000 tonnes of potato starch each year, and it just doesn’t make sense that we’re not using these huge volumes of potatoes for alternative purposes,” she said.

A large focus of this project is the potential development of an Australian potato starch industry which would provide additional revenue for Australian potato companies; potentially $1,000 a tonne for extracted starch instead of the current value of $0-10 a tonne for the waste.

“Potato starch is used broadly across the food industry, for bioplastics and packaging, to coatings and adhesives. We also want to use the waste from the waste, so after extracting the potato starch, there will be further opportunities using the residual waste from this first stage,” said Davis.

The four Australian potato companies that have partnered with the Fight Food Waste CRC are leaders in their industry and recognise the opportunity this represents to the industry.

Professor Vincent Bulone from the University of Adelaide is leading this research project from his world-class analytical centre for complex carbohydrate analysis, Adelaide Glycomics. The project is in line with the University’s industry engagement priority on agrifood and wine.

“There are different forms of starch in potatoes that can be used in different products. For example, existing research suggests that the less digestible starches in potatoes, the so-called ‘resistant starches’, can be used to make superior pre-biotics that help prevent infections,” said Bulone

“Another known starch component can be used to engineer low GI foods, and the skins of the potatoes themselves contain bioactives that can be used for a range of commercial products like nutraceuticals.”

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge is thrilled to have such a transformational project underway so early in the Fight Food Waste CRC’s journey, and sees the partnership between all of the potato producers as a great example of what CRCs can achieve.

“We’re looking to develop new products from current waste streams that will deliver additional profit to potato producers through domestic and export sales.

“Through investing in research and development we aim to deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project.

“This project is exactly what the CRC is all about; delivering real benefit for Australian businesses across the whole of the value chain.”

OzHarvest targets food waste on World Food Day

Today, on World Food Day, OzHarvest will show Aussies that tackling climate change, starts with your plate!  The social media campaign #countmein aims to inspire individual action and show thatmaking small changes to your own food waste is one of the few personal habits that can actually help restore the planet.

Food waste is often over looked in the climate change debate, but is in fact a major contributor responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gases (more than the aviation sector!) as food left to rot in landfill produces methane—a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Figures recently released from the Federal Government’s National Business Report  reveal Australia is wasting over 7 million tonnes of food each year, which equates to 298kg of food per person,making Australia the world’s fourth highest food waster per capita.

READ MORE: OzHarvest app designed to help fight hunger

OzHarvest Founder and CEO, Ronni Kahn AO says people are experiencing ‘eco-anxiety’ as most feel helpless in the battle to protect the planet, but reducing food waste is where we can all make a difference every day.

“The amount of food we waste is hard to visualise as once it goes in the bin it’s out of sight and out of mind, which leads us to think we don’t actually waste that much. 298 kg per person is a staggering amount – the same weight as six adult kangaroos. Urgent action is needed if we are to achieve the national target to halve food waste by 2030.”

“Cutting back on our individual food waste is the single most powerful way we can take direct action against climate change. It’s an easy win, both for your pocket and the planet. So from today, we’ll be asking people to #countmein and share what small changes they will make to reduce their food waste,” said Ronni.

Reducing food waste is ranked as the third most effective solution to reducing global warming by scientists at Project Drawdown. Taking action today could prevent 70 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere in the next 30 years and is one of the most effective ways for individuals to protect our partnership with the planet.

To see what small changes you can make, complete the quiz and share the campaign go to

Compostable cucumber wrap from BioBag World

A fully compostable shrink-wrap for cucumbers has been developed in South Australia and is set to be launched on international markets.

The compostable wrap is manufactured by BioBag World Australia and took 12 months to develop in partnership with South Australian produce and packaging businesses IG Fresh Produce.

It was launched in September as an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional polyethylene plastic wrap and has already generated export interest from Qatar and South Africa.

IG Fresh executive director George Antonas said he was approached by South Australian independent grocer Drakes Supermarkets to develop a compostable fruit and vegetable wrap to replace traditional shrink-wrap.

Antonas said the product was being used exclusively on cucumbers sold at Drake’s 38 South Australian supermarkets until October 16, after which it’d be available for a wide range of purposes. “JP Drake put the challenge to us and so we gave them product exclusivity for the first four weeks,” Antonas said. IG Fresh produce is a fruit and vegetable wholesaler located the South Australian capital Adelaide.

READ MORE: AIP president explains biodegradable and compostable packaging

Antonas said a potential investment partner from Qatar had travelled to Adelaide for the product launch with Drakes. He expected to begin exporting cucumbers dressed in the compostable wrap to Qatar by the end of October, with exports to South Africa and Europe to follow.

The bioplastic film is made from a compostable resin called Mater-Bi that uses substances obtained from plants including non-genetically modified corn starch.

While there are other compostable products on the market, Antonas said creating a 100 per cent industrially compostable cucumber wrap required a unique process.

“That’s where Scott Morton’s expertise came into it – because it’s heat shrunk onto the cucumber. There’s plenty of compostable products out there but this one is for a specific purpose,” Antonas said.

“There’s a big push to make all single use packaging compostable. So, you buy a cucumber, you peel off the wrapper and you put it in your greens bin and you know it’s not going to add to landfill and that sort of thing. Plastic has its place but not for single use, it just creates too much waste.”

According to Antonas, the cucumber compostable wrap has the potential to be used on all fruit and vegetables, and BioBag World Australia director Scott Morton agrees.

“The potential is endless. It’s improving all of the time. I see it as a direct replacement for plastic,” Morton said.

Norway-based BioBag has six factories and 20 market or distribution partners around the world, producing over one billion bags a year.

Morton said BioBag was also working on a non-shrink-wrap compostable product that could replace plastic cling films.

He said the cucumber wrap developed in South Australia could also be distributed in major global markets including the United States.

“We’re trying to enhance the current cucumber wrap. It’s not quite suitable yet as a cling wrap alternative,” he said.

“We’re developing a new product that’s more for the international market. That’s a product that will especially keep fruit and vegetables fresh.

Food date confusion and traceability

The leading cause of food waste is confusion over what the date labels on products actually mean. A national survey reported that 84 per cent of Americans waste food based on the date label.

Mislead by labels
Each year, millions of dollars are lost, and thousands of tonnes of food is wasted. Common reasons for this waste include damaged produce, it doesn’t meet supplier standards or even that demand is low.

The main reason for disposal of safe to eat food is due to misleading date labels.

The most recognised food date labels are “best before” and “use-by”. A “best before” label indicates that if a product is eaten after the recommended “best before” date, the quality will not be at its best, but it is still safe to eat. However, it’s commonly misinterpreted that the food is no longer safe to eat.

A “use by” date on a product is a safety risk and meat, fish and dairy products should all be eaten on or before the specified date. However, labels like “expiry”, “sell by” and “display until” add confusion, despite not affecting the consumer, only the outlet selling the product for stock control purposes.

Traceability to tackle waste
With millions of pounds worth of perfectly edible food filling landfills, a solution needs to be found. Perhaps one of the simplest is to standardize food date labels across all supermarkets and retail stores. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has approved a Call to Action in an appeal to standardise food date labels worldwide by 2020, with the aim to half food waste by 2030.

In the meantime, a way that food manufacturers can help to reduce the cause of food waste, could be to implement traceability software.

Traceability allows manufacturers to track and record data of food produce through all stages of production, processing and distribution to the consumer, which could influence how much safe to eat food is wasted.

In recent years, the concept of “farm to fork” has become increasingly popular, with more people interested in where their food comes from. If consumers could trace how long ago and where their meat was slaughtered, packaged and distributed, or if they could see what date their milk was produced and which farm it came from, they may reconsider throwing away food that is safe to eat, reducing waste.

ABB offer traceability software such as Manufacturing Operations Management suite (MOM), which creates a digital trace of a product by integrating all features into a database.

For example, farmers could log all information of their livestock into a central system, including identification number, the age of the animal, what date it was slaughtered or milked, the date of packaging and where it has been distributed. A QR (quick response) code or barcode storing the information could be printed out and applied to the packaging. Once the product is on supermarket shelves, consumers can scan the code to view the product data.

It’s vital that food manufacturers support the reduction of food waste and should be compliant with the ISO 22005:2007 traceability standard as a minimum.

Standardised date labels and traceability will educate the consumer with more knowledge regarding a products journey and process, meaning that consumers have more information at hand in order to make an informed decision when it comes to wasting food.


Incorporating circular economy not as easy as it seems

APCO is what is called a co-regulatory body, whose role it is to administer the Australian Packaging Covenant.

“The Australian Packaging Covenant is a regulatory framework that sits under the National Environmental Protection Measure for used packaging. It is very firmly a co-regulatory body,” said Donnelly at a speech she gave at AUSPACK 2019 in Melbourne. “If you think about product stewardship, there are a couple of ways in which you can do that. You can do it in a voluntary sense, which is the industry getting together and deciding to do something. You can do it in a co-regulatory sense, which is industry and government getting together to do something, or you can do it in a mandatory sense, which is the government telling the industry what to do. We’re in what I like to think is the nice place in the middle, where we’re working together and we’ve got a framework to work to.”

The covenant has been going for 20 years, and every five years a new strategic plan is put in place that is agreed between industry and government together. In 2016, both industry and government got together to begin looking at a new approach. The covenant had been around for quite some time and it was struggling to find a way to deliver effectively to industry and government on the packaging changes that needed to happen. Government and industry looked at what model could be applied – looking particularly at the circular economy.

“We had a mandate in the 2017 strategic plan to deliver the sustainable packaging pathways in Australia through a circular economy model, which is no small feat,” said Donnelly. “It’s wonderful to talk about circular economy conceptually, but it is quite difficult to deliver in an operational sense, because it does require a complete transformation of the entire packaging ecosystem. That requires a level of collaboration and is driven through a collective impact model, which is all about shared value. If one of us doesn’t get there, none of us get there – that means you’ve got to take everybody on that journey with you. When you have 1,500 organisations and eight different governments (including states, territories and federal), that’s quite the challenge. So a co-regulatory body has a big task in terms of bringing stakeholders along the journey and getting everybody to where they need to be to be effective in this space.”

They focussed on four key areas. One is helping with the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPG), which APCO has reviewed, with the end result being a new version of the SPG due out at the end of 2019. They are also at the forefront of providing a prep tool, which is a packaging recyclability portal, that is available to all APCO members, giving them the ability to actually know that they are designing packaging that has the ability to be recycled.
The second area APCO focussed on helping businesses identify and develop operational systems required for this work. Some of the key resources in this area are about strategic partnerships – bringing together organisations that otherwise would have no alignment with each other, other than that they have a similar end of life material.

“For example, we have 1,500 organisations that represent 153 different ANSZIC codes,” she said. “And if you can end up with an airline, a homewares company, a retailer and a pharmaceutical who, in any other sense, would probably not be having conversations – but who all have a similar material that they may need to deal with at end of life – that gives you the ability, in terms of looking at programs and options going forward, of scaling up material volumes and models that previously may not have been economically or operationally viable. That is because the limited scope of the material available can actually be scaled up on that collective impact model.”

The third area is education. The Australasian Recycling Label is the flagship piece of work for APCO in terms of helping industry and governments to communicate with consumers/communities about packaging and how to deal with packaging at end of life.
Finally, the fourth area is about material circularity. There’s no point recycling a piece of packaging unless it has a home to go to that has a value, said Donnelly. Material circularity is about dealing with the end market and creating a sustainable ecosystem for post-consumer recyclables.

Donnelly also touched on China’s national sword policy that reduced the amount of impurities it would allow in recycled materials coming from countries like Australia. And this, said Donnelly, is where Australian food, beverage and other industries that rely on packaging need a change in mindset.

China’s new policy saw the value of recycled materials drop through the floor. What this did was highlight the economic impact of the decision within Australia and whether it was palatable to have that level of risk on the global market for a commodity item such as waste.

“After much conversation among industry and government, it became obvious that that level of risk was not palatable,” said Donnelly. “So what’s our alternative? Our alternative is that we must create a domestic market and domestic opportunities for those materials to be used. Here there is a big transformation that’s required. APCO did a report that is available on our website, and that was completed around the time the China national sword policy was announced. That was one of the key things that really drove the need to do something different to what we’ve been doing traditionally. That coupled with the sustainable development goals and consumers’ greater awareness coming from things like ‘The War on Waste’, really drove a need to take a very different approach.”

In April 2018, APCO met with the state and federal environment ministers to discuss how APCO could support the response to these issues. Initially, the organisation went through a series of ways it could do that and it also tried to look how it could reach a target that could enable it to have something for companies to work towards.

“It was at that point that the 100 per cent target with regard to packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 was endorsed by every government in Australia, including federal,” said Donnelly. “We then went away and, in coordination with industry and government, we sat down and spent about six months working through what other targets and what other areas needed to be addressed to support such an audacious target. There were a range of targets that were discussed, but the consensus and the agreement in the end was around three other sub-targets that support that 100 per cent target. We talked about 70 per cent of plastic packaging being recycled or composted.”

Another target was 30 per cent average recycled content across all packaging.

“This is very much about driving the pull,” she said. “We need a pull in the market to give a home to these materials, and there’s no home if the home doesn’t have a value. Looking at recycled content is about understanding how we can get recycled content into certain material. And this is not a ‘purist version’ of bottle to bottle, this is about finding a home for materials that can be recycled across a range of activities. This conversation is very open about what the solution can be.

“You’ll note that the target is an average recycled content, and that is because recycled content can’t go into all packaging. There are some things that it can’t go into and that is really challenging – things like pharmaceuticals, some food products – and if you’re looking at a 30 per cent recycled content target, really the focus area is about looking, initially, at your tertiary packaging and your secondary packaging. And primary packaging is something that we can look at, but not where we would be suggesting to start from a strategic viewpoint.”

The final target APCO mentioned was phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through re-design, innovation or alternative delivery methods.

“This is a big, contentious area,” said Donnelly. “This is the whole space where people are talking about plastic-free and all these kinds of things. What’s bubbling up from this is a need to recognise that there are some packaging materials where we just shouldn’t use single-use plastics. But here’s the thing – if you’re not going to do that, you need to have a plan on what your alternative is. There’s no point in banning straws or balloons, and that’s what we’ve seen recently. Some councils have come out and banned things like straws and then they’ve had an issue with the disability sector, where some people need straws to consume food. We need to be working through alternative models and planned pathway for transitioning away from these materials.

“It’s not that you shouldn’t transition away from things. There are going to be some materials that are just simply too hard to recover, or not recoverable, which we can use alternative materials for, but we need to do the work and planning for what those things will be, and for that transition pathway.

“You’ll see some news pieces around people and certain industry sectors pushing back and saying we should mandate recycled content. Well, we’ve got to agree on what recycled content is first. In this space right now, we are in a very big transition and it’s a transition that needs to be done in a considered way. It is about making sure that we have the best possible outputs and outcomes in a considered way so that we don’t drive perverse outcomes.”

A story about dairy processing plants, fat balls and blocked sewers

If you head over to the National Farmers’ Federation website, it gives you a run down: there are 8,594 dairy farms in Australia, a national dairy herd of 1.6 million cows, and more than 9 billion litres of whole milk being produced per year with the farm gate value of about $4 billion.

While farmers, dairy food processing factories and exporters see dollar signs, others like Aerofloat’s Ray Anderson, are aware that the process wastewater generated at these factories needs to be treated before being released into the environment.

Anything not used in the primary product that is sold on the shelf, is waste – including all the washdown water and storage tank cleaning water. And this is where food processing managers need to do research on the best solution to minimising and getting rid of waste.

You would think within the modern food processing environment that this would be a relatively easy fix. But Anderson, who is Aerofloat’s managing director, said it’s not that simple as the wastewater quantities and quality from different dairy processing plants can vary significantly. As such, there are different approaches and methods of treating the wastewater that is produced by different industries.

“I wouldn’t call any of these waste streams challenging. I’d call them all treatable as long as you know what you are doing,” he said. “If there is a lot of fat and suspended proteins, as is the case if you’re treating wastewater from a milk bottling plant, you can remove the fats, proteins and lactose but you need to understand how to do that. You need to be able to understand the chemistry. The fats and suspended protein (casein protein) can be removed by physical means, whereas the dissolved protein (whey protein) and lactose are soluble and need to be removed by biological processes. First, you need to be able to add the right chemicals to be able to bring the fats and casein protein together so they can be separated from the clean water. This separation can be done with a technique called dissolved air flotation (DAF).”

If a local sewerage authority has the capacity, they may be prepared to accept the discharge from the process, providing the suspended fats and proteins are removed to low concentrations. If there is no local sewerage authority, then the remaining soluble contaminants need to be removed by a biological process before the water is discharged to land or the river system. There are different types of biological processes available but the use of Moving Bed Bio-film Reactors (MBBR) processes are common. This is a process where the wastewater is aerated in the presence of micro-organisms, which are attached to millions of small pieces of plastic bio-media.

It is also important that the company producing the waste knows the local regulations when it comes to treatment. Every council, state and municipality has different standards and ignorance is no excuse if a company is found in breach of these regulations.

“A company needs to understand the regulatory requirements for the local sewage authority if you have a sewer available,” said Anderson. “If you don’t have a sewer available, you then need to have an understanding of what the regulatory requirements are of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in terms of treating and releasing back into the environment, or onto the land for irrigation purposes.”

The majority of food processing facilities are connected to the sewer; however, trade waste charges can become excessive depending on the volume and quality of the wastewater being discharged. So, this becomes another factor in considering the wastewater treatment processes employed. If a processing factory is in an area where they cannot put these by-products down the sewer, the company needs to be able to treat the wastewater to a high standard that allows them to discharge it into the rivers, or to irrigate the land.

“The industry needs to be able to engage a reputable design and construct contractor who can provide an economic analysis and advise on the most efficient and cost-effective process for treating the wastewater – whether that is DAF-only or DAF and biological, as well as the issues of disposal of the residues from the processes. That involves having a sound understanding of biological process engineering, being able to choose the most cost effective process to treat that wastewater given the availability of land or space and finish up with a water quality suitable to be able to be discharged to sewer, the environment or land,” said Anderson.

Although there are different ways of treating dairy waste, as a general rule, most dairies will require a DAF treatment for removal of any residual fats and proteins, even in cheese and yoghurt manufacturing where most of this suspended material is removed for making the product. If a company does not comply with the stringent discharge standards, they may be charged a penalty.

Aerofloat’s wastewater treatment systems can help with both the solids removal and the soluble contaminant removal of milk processing wastewater. Firstly, the wastewater is chemically treated to coagulate and flocculate (pull together), the solid particles and the chemical treated stream is then transferred to Aerofloat’s proprietory AeroDAF to float and separate the particles – this removes the fats and the suspended protein. The second phase uses a biological process to treat the dissolved lactose or sugar.  Again, Aerofloat typically uses the MBBR biological treatment technique– the AeroMBBR. In some instances, if sufficient land is available a hybrid version of the Activated Sludge / Sequence Batch Reactor (SBR) technology can be more economically employed.

The final consideration is understanding what to do with the by-product once separated.
“You can send the waste left over to a composting plant, or plough it into the land as a carbon supplement,” said Anderson. “Some people use it for making compost material. Wherever possible, food processors should try and use that separated waste and concentrated waste for some form of beneficial reuse.”

“Sometimes the water can be used for irrigating the land and making it more lush for the cows to feed on the grass again,” he said. “Sometimes with the whey component they separate that out into tanks and send it off to pig farmers as pig food.”

So why is it important to treat dairy wastewater by these means? The most common problem is the amount of fat constituent in the wastewater. In the past, small boutique cheese makers have started up and as part of their manufacturing process they would put in grease traps. “These traps act like a gravity separation piece of equipment for the flotation of fats, but they don’t work properly as the flows increase and due to the temperature of the wastewater,” said Anderson. Those small cheese factories grow and put more water down the sewer, and nearly all of them have problems with high levels of fats being discharged to the sewer. The fat going into the system can have major implications on causing the formation of fat balls, which block the sewers and can cause sewer overflows.

“We were advised of an instance recently where a cheese maker had been discharging, on a regular basis, a high level of fat and it caused a blockage in the sewer that flooded one of the neighbour’s factories,” he said. “The discharge of fats into a sewer is a major problem internationally for sewage authorities. It’s not just from dairy waste, it is from other places, such as abattoirs, food processors and large commercial kitchens. Anything that has wastewater containing fats, oil or grease in them can contribute to this problem.

“Over time, the fats accumulate in the sewers, and you might not know it causes an issue until there is a complete blockage. There are some pretty horrific stories of fat balls blocking sewers. Places like London where you have these spherical fat balls a couple of metres in diameter that have blocked the sewerage pipes.”

According to Anderson, it is however, not all bad news, especially if those responsible for the waste take charge in a responsible manner. He even sees some good outcomes. “By installing a wastewater treatment system, companies can significantly reduce their trade waste costs.”

What is important is that dairy food and beverage processors are responsible for the discharge they put into the sewage system or on surrounding land. This is why it is critical that correct equipment is used when disposing of dairy waste.

Eliminating waste within the value stream

Behind every food and beverage product on the shelf is a supply chain journey that starts with ingredients. The Australian food manufacturing industry is an intricate maze of ingredient and packaging suppliers, most with different supply chain management solutions.

To manage ingredient safety and increase the visibility of food ingredients and raw materials in these complex supply chains, a new project, titled the Supply Chain Improvement Project, is being implemented with the objective of strengthening integration between upstream supply chains in the Australian food manufacturing industry.

An industry working group has been set up to drive the project using GS1 standards. The group will work to achieve consensus across the industry to improve food safety, deliver efficiencies and reduce costs. Representatives from Nestlé, Ingham’s, SPC, Lion Dairy and Drinks, Sanitarium, CHR Hansen, Newly Weds Foods, FPC Food Plastics, Labelmakers and Visy Industries are some who currently make up the group.

The ability to capture material movements from “paddock to plate” provides data integrity and timeliness from receipt to delivery, with traceability back to the source. Through automation, many of the manual processes are eliminated and companies can be proactive with inventory management and handling systems.

The capability to support information and production flow within existing systems for integrated supply chains is critical to businesses. The project has the capacity to eliminate waste within an organisation’s value stream, reduce non-value-added tasks and ensure cost-effective solutions for customers, leading to a “right-first-time” approach for all deliveries.

Sourcing ingredients without a traceability and food safety protocol today invites counterfeit products onto the food chain and increases risk of contamination.
The adoption of GS1 standards as the common language for the identification, data capture and data sharing will enable automation of key ingredient sourcing, and traceability between ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers.

Using GS1 standards for upstream integration allows companies to translate their internal processes and approaches into a common language that all trading partners can use and understand without having to translate data formats across different supply chain management systems.

The Supply Chain Improvement Project has the potential to confer many benefits to industry, including increased visibility of food ingredients and raw materials, unique identification and traceability to improve food safety, and reduced costs with automated business transactions.

Plastic waste – why every gram counts

In my 30 years of HDPE plastic bottle manufacturing, I have become an expert in every aspect of this business. And this is not by chance, but a lot of hard work.

As I focus my efforts on the finite resource that is HDPE, I want to make the world aware of an important point: full-loop recycling is hard, and it is capital intensive. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t recycle –  in fact, we absolutely must. It is a priority in my world.

I believe one of the easiest and simplest ways to lessen waste is to reduce the weight of HDPE bottles by one gram. In many cases, a brand owner and a manufacturer can just agree to reduce the weight of HDPE plastic bottles by changing the specification with no resulting impact on the integrity of the bottle. It is just a change in documentation. If that is a little concerning, or for some reason makes you nervous, then go with half a gram – every bit will count in the end.

Success in weight reduction comes in the form of predictable results from known process inputs, and more importantly, having those known inputs in control.

The products that go inside the bottles are made using strict recipes and quality controls. For the HDPE bottle manufacturing process – extrusion blow moulding – it is the same.
Plastic bottles are made from a range of materials, and are an engineered part of the bottle – they must be seen as this until the day they are consumed and tossed into the recycling bin. Bottles that are produced with a high degree of repeatability and are proven on the filling line build confidence in the people who fill them. This confidence will be the trigger to a successful weight reduction project. And this may also build the confidence in brand owners to reduce the weight by even more than one gram.

Without the confidence of the team filling the bottles, anything that can potentially change the bottles performance characteristics will be fought against hard, and the end goal of reducing the weight by one gram won’t work.

Considering the billions of HDPE bottles that are made each year of just one gram of HDPE plastic is removed from even half of them, then we will have saved an extraordinary amount of energy to produce this plastic in the first place.

And let us not forget the extraordinary amount of product that will be saved from landfill, or the effort having to recycle it afterwards.

Queenslanders to receive refund for recycling drink containers

From the 1st of November, Queenslanders will receive a refund for recycling drink containers.

The Queensland government’s container refund scheme will see people getting 10 cents back for recycling eligible containers at a range of outlets.

Minister for environment Leeanne Enoch said the scheme would encourage recycling while also reducing the amount of plastic seen in the environment.

“There will be a range of different type of refund point options such as permanent depot-style points, bag drops and reverse vending machines. Some container refund points will be mobile and use the ‘pop up’ concept to ensure the reach of our scheme extends into regional and remote areas,” said Enoch.

READ: Recycling crisis has employers eyeing sustainability skills

“By providing a range of convenient and accessible refund point solutions, more Queenslanders will be able to participate in and benefit from the scheme,” she said.

Not-for-profit group Container Exchange has been appointed to run the scheme. The company is implementing 230 refund points.

“There has also been strong interest from community groups about participating as donation points. These donations points will allow Queenslanders to donate their containers to a charity, community group or school, allowing these groups to get the 10-cent refund,” said Enoch.

“Mobile collection points provide a perfect solution for these groups, and for them, it could be as simple as setting-up a temporary collection point at the local football game on a Sunday to collect the empty drink containers. This will allow our vital charities and community groups to be able to raise money for their projects and programs,” she said.

Container Exchange acting chairman Alby Taylor said there was a great opportunity for community groups and sporting clubs to register as a part of the scheme.

“As we approach the commencement date, the community will see the options available to them to be able to benefit from the container refund scheme,” said Taylor.

“We are currently touring the state, in conjunction with Boomerang Alliance, holding community forums in various towns, to educate Queenslanders about the scheme. So far our forums have attracted nearly 1000 registrations,” he said.


Sodexo Australia saves tonnes of food from going to waste

Sodexo Australia will divert tonnes of quality surplus food each year that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Sodexo will save more than 9920kg of surplus food, in a new partnership with online surplus food wholesale marketplace Yume.

Sodexo Australia chief financial officer and country president, Mark Chalmers, said the partnership would see products purchased through Yume used at Sodexo sites across Australia.

It forms part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap.

READ: Perth hotel diverts food waste from landfill with BioBags

“Globally, Sodexo serves 100 million consumers every day, so we have tremendous capacity to reduce waste by improving how we deliver our services. We’re dedicated to finding new ways to minimise our collective waste and environmental impact and partnering with Yume is a great way to do this,” said Chalmers.

Recently, Sodexo Australia purchased more than 500kg of premium Australian feta cheese, more than five tonnes of crushed tomatoes and a range of poultry products.

To date, Sodexo has purchased 9920kg of food from Yume, equating to 684,480 litres of water saved and 20 tonnes of CO2 prevented.

The concept of Yume works off selling surplus stock of perfectly good food from quality HACCP accredited suppliers, including Unilever Foods Solutions and Mondelez, to prevent it from going to waste.

Yume founder Katy Barfield said the company was thrilled to partner with Sodexo.

“Australia sends a staggering 9.5 million tonnes of food to landfill each year and the Australian Government estimates that food waste is costing the economy $20 billion per year.”

To-date Yume has returned more than $1.5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers and has diverted 300,000kg of product from going to waste.

Environmentally, this equates to 600 tonnes of CO2 prevented and over 20.7 million litres of water saved.

AIP to run food waste half-day training course for Thailand

As a part of the Australian Institute of Packaging’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12:3 the Institute will be taking its new ‘Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste’ half-day training course to Thailand in June as a part of ProPak Asia 2018.

Taking place on Wednesday 14th of June, the course is supported by the Asian Packaging Federation, the Indonesian Packaging Federation and the World Packaging Organisation. It is open to anyone in the industry who needs to better understand the issue of food waste and packaging.

Overview on course:

Over one third of the food grown for human consumption is lost or wasted between farm and fork. In Australia alone it is estimated to be valued at $20 billion per year, with half of this occurring in households. There are many reasons why this loss is occurring. There are also many opportunities to be more efficient with resources.

This course will provide participants with an introduction to the seriousness of food waste in this country and globally and how we can all make a difference as team members of the product-packaging design process to this issue.

It will cover packaging design criteria for Best-Practice Save Food Packaging Design developments that should be considered. With hands-on and practical case studies participants will learn how designing packaging to save food actually saves food.

Course Objectives:

  •  Understanding of where and why food loss and waste occurs.
  • Understanding the role of packaging in minimising loss through the supply chain and at the household level.
  • Understanding of key packaging design criteria to minimise food loss/waste.
  • Appreciation of the environmental life cycle profile of food, packaging and food waste.

This course is ideally suited to packaging technologists, designers, engineers, marketers, production and procurement managers and for industries across the food supply chain (farm to fork).


Room 223


Bang Na, Bangkok 10260, Thailand

Course Presenter: Pierre Pienaar (Prof) MSc, FAIP, CPP; Education Director – Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)


To register your place simply book on-line at or


New appointment and funding to drive national food waste strategy

Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) has announced the appointment of Genevieve Bateman as General Manager of Food Sustainability, a newly created position to support the implementation of Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy.

Managing Director of FIAL, Dr Mirjana Prica, congratulated Ms Bateman on her appointment and said that she will bring tremendous experience and proven success at delivering significant government initiatives to the issues of food waste.

“Ms  Bateman will lead the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy and work with industry, business and government across the food supply chain to find collaborative solutions to the food waste problem which costs the Australian economy $20 billion per year.

“Ms Bateman’s career spanning both the public service and private sector will be an asset to FIAL and her enthusiasm and passion will be instrumental in delivering this exciting initiative.”

“One of the key roles for Ms Bateman over the next 24 months will be to identify short, medium and long-term outcomes for the delivery of the strategy and how these outcomes will be measured against our 2030 target.

“FIAL is also delighted to announce a call for innovative projects that encourage collaboration between small and large businesses in the food and agribusiness sector, to lift productivity and competitiveness.

“We will match funding of over $100,000 and up to $1 million to help industry and agribusiness solve an innovation challenge. Projects that involve and benefit multiple businesses across the sector will be viewed more favourably for funding.

“Now that Ms Bateman has joined us, FIAL’s attention will turn to working hard on the four key areas of the National Food Waste Strategy: policy support, business improvements, market development and behaviour change.

“I am also delighted that the Australian Government recently increased its funding for food waste and announced a further $30 million in funding for the Fight Food Waste CRC to empower industry and individuals to help tackle food insecurity and enhance Australia’s reputation as a sustainable producer of premium food products.

“This decision builds on the $1.37 million already contributed by the Australian Government and states and territories towards eliminating food waste.

 “I look forward to working with the new CRC,” said Dr Prica.

 The National Food Waste Strategy is being delivered as part of the Australian’s Government election commitment to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030.