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Environment, Political

CDU EXPERT: Australia’s regulation of food waste ‘lagging’

Charles Darwin University 2 mins read

5 APRIL, 2023

Who: Charles Darwin University Senior Lecturer in Law Dr Susan Bird.


  • The findings of the UN Food Waste Index Report.
  • The role legislation can play in reducing food waste.
  • How Australia’s processes to reduce food waste compares to other countries.

Contact details: Call +61 8 8946 6721 or email to arrange an interview.

Quotes attributable to Dr Susan Bird:

“Australia’s legislative approach to regulating food waste is lagging. Australia has a policy of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2030. This is in line with the world’s goals however Australia and other countries are unlikely to meet this target. In Australia, we are yet to see the legislative reforms that are needed to meet the target of halving food waste by 2030. The issue must be tackled globally if we are to see any big drop in the amount of food wasted.

“There are other countries that are doing a lot more than Australia to reduce food waste.  France has been a front runner, as have some other countries in the EU. Several states in the US have also legislated against food waste, but there is not a holistic approach. A global approach to food systems would be more effective, as this is more likely to close loopholes that allow the problem to be shipped offshore. The natural environment does not have borders, so we need to re-frame our thinking to the global scale if we are to stop food waste.”

On reducing household waste in Australia

“Changing individual behaviour can be difficult, but this does not mean we should give up on trying. We all have a role to play but if substantial inroads are to be made in reducing food waste, legislation would be a more effective way forward. Research conducted by Ali Chalak et al in 2016, which included data from 44 countries, concluded that a legislative response to reducing food waste is the most effective one when compared with other approaches, such as opt in. Countries that use a legal approach can reduce food waste much faster than countries that rely on voluntary measures alone.”

On reducing waste from commercial food systems

“Food systems need to incorporate circular rather than linear systems of production and consumption. To encourage recycling behaviour, law can mandate that, for example, food waste must be composted, or an extra fee must be paid. Laws such as these have been introduced in other countries around the world and have been shown to have impact. Tax incentives can also be applied to companies that rescue food, making it more attractive to donate.” 

Contact details:

Raphaella Saroukos she/her
Research Communications Officer
Marketing, Media & Communications
Larrakia Country
T: +61 8 8946 6721

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