City of Yarra: Food waste reduction program

The City of Yarra and Cultivating Community developed the “Food Waste Reduction Program” (branded as Food Know How) which aimed to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. Food waste in Yarra averages over 50 per cent of the domestic and 40 per cent of the commercial waste streams; representing significant social, economic and environmental inefficiencies and impacts.

The key objectives were to:

  • Engage households, cafés and offices and the wider community in avoiding food waste and recapturing organic waste
  • Encourage behaviour change to reduce food waste through engagement, access to subsidised organics recycling systems, community compost hubs and a food waste collection scheme
  • Develop and trial technologies for processing food waste at local compost hubs
  • Develop information for future waste minimisation and management plans

Food Know How was implemented over an 11 month period. Over five hundred households, thirty-two cafes and three offices were recruited. A network of community compost hubs was established with a corresponding food waste collection scheme, to process food waste from local cafes. Project targets included participant recruitment, food waste reduction, development and implementation of appropriate scaled technological solutions and research and development of best practice.

Key messages focused on benefits associated with food waste reduction and participants received resources, training and advice. Bin audits enabled comparative analysis of food waste proportions of the waste stream over time and surveys were also administered to gather selected self-reported data on diversions.

Food Know How demonstrated the significant potential to reduce food waste through local solutions. The project could be readily replicated in other municipalities and more efficiently by adapting the learnings which include:

  • Bokashi systems are a key technology for organics recycling. Worm farming is subject to complex management challenges.
  • Ongoing recruitment throughout the program presented resource and engagement challenges, therefore closed intake periods and recruitment by Council are recommended.
  • Project delivery by a not-for-profit organisation enabled flexible and adaptive management.
  • Households empowered through deeper engagement can achieve greater food waste reductions. Household focus groups identified two distinct groups with different motivations.
  • In-vessel hot composting systems provide the most scalable and sustainable solution for inner city organic waste management, complemented with a ‘user-pays’ hybrid vehicle trike collection scheme.

For more information visit the Food Know How website or contact the Waste Education Officer at the City of Yarra on (03) 9205 5555.

For more information about the Metro Fund contact or ph: 8698 9800.

Project resources:

  • Food Waste Reduction Program MFR2 Final Report - Yarra Report 1.2 MB

    This final report outlines the outcomes, findings, project highlights and recommendations for the Yarra City Council Metro Fund Round 2 'Food Waste Reduction Program (Food Know How)' project. The project aimed to engage households and the wider community in avoiding food waste and recapturing organic waste, develop and trial technologies, and gather information for future waste management plans.

Last updated: 20/05/2020