THE Australian dairy industry is pushing agricultural sustainability by developing a sector-wide action plan to reduce food waste. Dairy is the first agricultural sector in Australia to take this critical step.
Dairy Australia managing director, Dr David Nation, said that food waste from the dairy supply chain had previously been identified as one of the six highest Australian food waste sources.
“The dairy industry has been working to reduce food waste and extend shelf life of products for decades,” Dr Nation said.
“This new commitment takes us much further, leading the agriculture sector on sustainability and setting a goal to halve food waste by 2030.
“This plan seeks to ensure that we maximise the number of people we can feed with, and the value derived from the dairy products our industry has worked hard to produce, while also reducing environmental impacts.”
The Dairy Sector Food Waste Action Plan was developed by Dairy Australia in collaboration with the Australian Dairy Products Federation and Stop Food Waste Australia, and with input from dairy businesses across the country.
The executive director of the Australian Dairy Products Federation, Janine Waller, said that sustainability and good practices were important for dairy farms and dairy manufacturers.
“Developing the Dairy Sector Food Waste Action Plan has given us unique insights into where, what, and how much food waste is occurring across the dairy supply chain, which is particularly important when we’re managing the challenges of food inflation and a declining raw milk pool,” Ms Waller said.
“Together, we have identified 10 key actions to reduce waste – from investing in R&D and technical solutions, to effective inventory management systems to monitor and report on waste, partnering with food rescue organisations, promoting sustainable packaging solutions, and educating consumers through product labelling and storage advice.”
The Chief Operating Officer at Stop Food Waste Australia, Mark Barthel, said that food waste was a $36 billion challenge in Australia, and if successfully implemented, the initiatives in this plan would deliver big economic, social, and environmental benefits.
“Reducing dairy food waste across the supply chain can save millions of dollars annually,” Mr Barthel said.
“Studies show that just a one per cent reduction in food waste could result in savings of up to $10 million for dairy manufacturers, which would increase their ability to remain competitive in local and international markets.
“The benefits of reducing food waste go beyond financial gains. Effectively preventing and managing dairy food waste can reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 per cent, while also conserving water and energy and significantly reducing ecological footprint.”
The Dairy Sector Food Waste Action Plan aligns with the goal of the federal government and Australian Dairy Industry Council to halve food waste by 2030. The Australian dairy industry’s commitment to sustainable practices, including reducing waste, is highlighted in the 2021 Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework report.
The Dairy Sector Food Waste Action Plan is available on the Dairy Australia website at: https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/manufacturing-support/manufacturing-sustainability/dairy-sector-food-waste-action-plan.