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Tackling food waste is good for people and the planet

Projects tackling food waste are getting a big boost from the Government.

"Every year, we waste enough food to feed more than the populations of Dunedin and Hamilton combined," Associate Environment Minister Rachel Brooking said in Dunedin today.

"The 157,000 tonnes of food wasted every year in this country could feed 336,000 people for a year.

"This is obviously a huge waste of money and resources, especially when many people are finding it tough at the moment. 

"And it's also bad for the environment - particularly the climate. Producing that food takes resources. Dumping it fills up our rubbish tips, and as it decomposes it produces methane, a powerful, climate-damaging greenhouse gas.

"We know we have to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, and that's why I'm pleased to announce support for projects tackling the waste food problem at its source," Rachel Brooking said.

Projects ranging from public education on how to cut waste at home, to reducing the amount of food being wasted in large retirement villages and rest homes, are getting money from the Government's Climate Emergency Response Fund.

Climate Minister James Shaw said that in a climate emergency, it is essential we do everything we can to reduce emissions.

"We must stop putting pollution into the atmosphere. It is great to see that this comes at virtually no cost to taxpayers, because it is being paid for by polluters, through the Government's Cerf fund."

Rachel Brooking said that getting on top of the food waste problem is not limited to just what we put in our kitchen bins.

"We have to tackle the problem at every step of the way, from food production to food consumption.

"The organisations getting support today will work with the Ministry for the Environment over the next three years to help build wider understanding of the scale of the problem, and aim to cut their food waste by 10 per cent.

"That's a significant contribution to tackling food waste, and I am looking forward to announcing further initiatives soon," Rachel Brooking said.

Editor's notes:

Methane has a warming effect 28 times greater than carbon dioxide. New Zealand is committed to cutting the amount of methane being produced from organic sources by 10 per cent by 2030, and by between 24 per cent and 47 per cent by 2050.

Nine per cent of biogenic methane comes from food and other organic waste. The Government's Emissions Reduction Plan, released last year, includes emissions reductions of up to 400,000 tonnes a year from reducing that waste.

Collectively, the four projects will receive $4.6 million over three years from the Climate Emergency Response Fund (Cerf).

The organisations being funded are:

Source: Beehive