How many of us really think about what happens to our food scraps?

Most go into the rubbish, then straight to landfill. There, they add to the alarming problem of Australian food waste. According to OzHarvest, we produce over five million tonnes of it every year. That’s nearly 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of food and 20 billion dollars wasted!

So what can households and small businesses really do to reduce their food waste?

At the end of 2018, genU Business Enterprises started to look for an answer.

Reducing scraps in food processing

The food-processing kitchen in our North Geelong site was a key area in need of an innovative solution. This kitchen is manned by a dedicated crew of supported employees. The crew spends hours cutting, peeling and preparing vegetables, which are then vacuum-sealed and sent out to local organisations.

Adrian-chopping-pumpkins
Crew member Adrian chops pumpkins in the genU Business Enterprises kitchen.

Unfortunately, this operation creates a huge volume of scraps. They were unsuitable for any green-bin initiative, so most was going into general waste.

But we wanted to change the way our organic scraps were disposed of. A leadership project began the conversation surrounding reducing our environmental impact — and our waste costs along with it.

A sustainable solution

After extensive research, we reached an effective final solution: we would send the food scraps to local farms to feed livestock.

That means that each day, anywhere between 20 to 80 kilograms of food scraps is sorted into labelled bins for collection. Livestock owners from across the Geelong region then collect the scraps, and use them to feed their animals, such as cows and goats.

Thankfully, the initiative has been met with great enthusiasm and it has been a runaway success.

All our organic food scraps were given to local farmers to feed their (grateful!) livestock.

Local farmers love using the food scraps on top of normal feeding regimes, and often send photos of their animals enjoying the spoils. They also send snaps of new arrivals to their farms — which staff and supported employees love!

Sending food scraps to local farms has already seen fantastic outcomes for the business. We’ve reduced the amount of waste generated in our kitchen by more than half. We’ve also saved on waste fees while supporting our farmers and the environment.

Want more insights into how genU Business Enterprises is embracing sustainability while creating careers for people living with a disability?
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