Sign up for all the latest tips and tricks on how to reduce your food waste!
Sign Up Now No Thank You ×

What we waste

If 122,547 tonnes of food is going into landfill in New Zealand every year, what exactly are we throwing away?

Sign up to our newsletter to learn more about food waste
Register

By going through people’s rubbish bins (yes, we did that – you can read more about that here) we were able to find out the most common foods Kiwis were chucking out.


How much food do we actually waste?

New Zealanders throw away 122,547 tonnes of food a year. That is equivalent to 213 jumbo jets of food that has to go somewhere to rot, instead of being eaten. All of this food is worth about $872 million each year.

That amount of food could feed the population of Dunedin for two years!

Food waste, rubbish

Rescued from the rubbish – the average New Zealand house throws out double this amount every year.


Why do we waste so much food?

People we surveyed believed that the main reasons we waste food are because we don’t eat our leftovers and that food in the fridge and the freezer goes off.

But we also waste a lot of food because we buy too much of it and don’t store it correctly.

We have lots of tips to help you know the best way to store your food and delicious ways to cook it so you will never need to throw it out again.


What types of food are we wasting?

These are the top 10 foods Kiwis throw out:

Top 10 avoidable food types Tonnes National cost
1.     Bread 12,856 $51,270,533
2.     Leftovers 9,489 $100,507,602
3.     Potatoes 6,365 $10,818,171
4.     Apples 4,025 $11,347,084
5.     Poultry 3,403 $40,792,129
6.     Bananas 3,242 $8,428,428
7.     Lettuce 3,136 $10,753,731
8.     Citrus 2,867 $9,084,713
9.     Pumpkins 2,656 $5,390,634
10.  Carrots 2,340 $4,913,087

Why do we waste so much bread?

Bread

We throw out 20 million loaves of bread a year! And that’s just the stuff that goes into the rubbish bin – not to the birds or ducks.

Many people find their bread goes mouldy or stale because of our humid climate. The best place to store your bread is in the fridge or the freezer.

We also throw out a lot of crusts and the ends of the loaves because we don’t like to eat them. It is such a waste to throw away this perfectly good bread as there are many things we can do with it.

You may think you are doing a good thing by leaving your bread out for the birds or feeding ducks, but it’s actually not that good for them. 


Why do we waste so many vegetables?

Nearly one-third of the food we waste is vegetables. Vegetables often get chucked out because we don’t eat them while they are at their prime, and let’s face it, not many people find limp celery very appetising!

We also throw away a lot of vegetable scraps such as potatoes peelings, pumpkin skins and broccoli stalks. These can all be eaten, or composted rather than going in your rubbish bin.

Vegetable peelings


Do we throw away junk food?

There were a few surprises in things that Kiwis threw out.

We know Kiwis like fish and chips, but it turns out our scoop of chips is too big with 2,089 tonnes of takeaway chips being thrown out each year.

Cake was another thing found in rubbish bins that we were surprised to see. Kiwis throw away $15 million of cakes every year!

What didn’t come as a surprise was that the traditional lunchbox staple, sandwiches, were commonly thrown away. Encouraging your children to eat their sandwiches for afternoon tea is an easy way to prevent 1,581 tonnes of sandwiches going to landfill.

Find out how you can reduce your waste