06:45pm Monday 13 July 2020

Food waste "inexcusable"

The United Nations Environment Program’s Executive Director Archim Steiner made a video address at the University for World Environment Day.

UNSW held a special Q&A-style panel discussion on food waste, featuring Ronnie Khan, the founder of food rescue charity OzHarvest, along with politicians and UNSW representatives.

Around 200 guests attended the event at the Ritchie Theatre in the Scientia Building, with many using social media to air their views.

Moderated by the ABC’s Matt Peacock and hosted by UNSW Sustainability and the Institute for Environmental Studies, the mood at the event was occasionally combative.

Liberal Member of the NSW Legislative Council Peter Phelps suggested “the market fixes every problem, if it is allowed to work properly”. In relation to food shortages in the developing world, he called for “NGOs to get out of the way” to allow the free market to develop.

Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council Cate Faehrmann took the opposite view, arguing that the market is driven purely by profit and it is dangerous to let this be dominated by a few big businesses.

OzHarvest’s Ronnie Khan called for consumers to buy seasonal, locally-produced fruit and vegetables. She also said buying the occasional “wiggly carrot” and other blemished produce would send the right message to supermarkets.

The other panellists were UNSW student newspaper editor Osman Faruqi, ALP National President Jenny McAllister and ‘green steel’ inventor UNSW Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

UNSW Sustainability Director and event organiser, Aaron Magner, told the audience “the food waste battle must be waged in every city, community, company and home kitchen”.

UNSW already donates more than five tonnes of food per month to the homeless and hungry though OzHarvest and five tonnes of food waste to composting projects.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media Office, 0422 934 024

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