How reducing food waste can contribute to positive environmental, social, and economic outcomes

Impact on our greenhouse gas emissions

  • 9% of New Zealand's biogenic methane emissions and 4% of our total greenhouse gas emissions are from food and organic waste.
  • Reducing food waste helps lower our greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions in the food production process, as well as emissions from the decomposition of food waste in landfill.

Social and economic benefits 

  • One in five children in New Zealand live in households experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity.
  • Redistributing good quality, surplus food to those who need it can have a positive impact on food security and community resilience.
  • Business and households can save money, through better resource efficiency and planning.
  • Food waste that does occur can be recovered and made into new things. For example Citizen Collective takes surplus bread and spent grains from brewing, turning the bread into beer and the spent grains back into bread.

How our Ministry supports food waste reduction

Funding food waste initiatives

Our Ministry has supported a number of initiatives to reduce food waste through the Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF). Some projects and organisations we have supported include:

  • Love Food Hate Waste – an ongoing national education campaign which provides resources, recipes, and tips to help households reduce their food waste.
  • Kai Ika - A collaborative project which collects fish heads, frames and other previously discarded fish parts, and redistributes these to families and community groups in Auckland who value these fish parts. Today, the Kai Ika project distributes more than two tonnes of fish off-cuts a week.
  • KiwiHarvest - a food rescue organisation that works with food businesses across Aotearoa to redistribute quality food that is unable to be sold for a variety reasons, such as oversupply or simply nearing its best-before or use-by date. To date, KiwiHarvest has rescued over 6,000 tonnes of food.

WMF funding 2021

The 2021 round for the WMF included the following strategic outcome and investment signals for food waste.

Strategic outcome:

Achieving beneficial outcomes for organic waste.

Investment signals:

  • Improved tools to avoid food waste, such as data and analysis, and practical resources to inform effective behaviour change;
  • Increase domestic capacity of existing food rescue organisations
  • Support primary and processing sectors in re-design of materials, products and services to minimise organic waste.

You can find out more about the fund, including past projects, here.

New national waste strategy and emissions reduction plan

To meet our climate change objectives, we are considering opportunities for reducing food waste, and diverting it from landfills.

Actions to address food and organic waste will be a key part of the Government’s emissions reduction plan and upcoming new national strategy for waste. We welcome feedback on this work, with public consultation likely to occur in late 2021.

Cross-Government action on food waste

Ministry for Social Development

The Ministry for Social Development provides support for the food rescue sector through its Food Secure Communities programme.

In addition to funding local community food providers, the programme also helped to establish three national partner organisations:

  • New Zealand Food Network - distributes bulk surplus and donated food from food producers, growers, and wholesalers to food hubs around New Zealand on an ‘as required’ basis. These food hubs then distribute the food onto foodbanks and other community food services.
  • Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance - provides national support for local food rescue organisations to reduce food waste and increase food security through capacity building, promoting good practice, enhancing collaboration, and advocacy.
  • Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Collective – supports frontline community food organisations to distribute food in mana enhancing ways, while also undertaking work to address the root causes of food insecurity.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

The Ministry for Primary Industries administers the Food Act 2014. MPI has developed advice on:

These pages provide useful information on:

  • Requirements under the Food Act 2014 for donating food
  • Information on ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates
  • Requirements for using food waste as animal feed
  • Legality and safety of ‘doggy bags’.

Action outside of Government

There are a large number of not-for-profit and community organisations active in reducing food waste, from food rescue organisations to waste educators. They include:

  • New Zealand Food Waste Champions 12.3 – which is a coalition of representatives from across the food supply chain, championing Aotearoa’s progress towards halving food waste by 2030. The Champions have recently released a roadmap for reducing food waste in New Zealand.
  • University of Otago – The University of Otago’s Food Waste Innovation research theme works collaboratively with stakeholders across the public and private sector to measure food waste, develop reduction strategies, apply innovative technologies, and change producer and consumer behaviour.