What to do with food that can’t be eaten

What to do with food that can’t be eaten

What should you do with food scraps that can’t be eaten?

If you have ever looked through your rubbish bin you will know that there are some food items that can’t be eaten – things like chicken bones, egg shells, citrus peels and banana skins.

Sure, some of these food scraps have other uses (hello, banana peel cake), but for the most part, you won’t be able to eat it. This is called unavoidable food waste.

Even though this food isn’t edible, it shouldn’t be send to landfill as it will have a negative impact on the environment. 

Some areas in New Zealand, like Christchurch and Raglan, have a food waste collection run by their local Council which takes away this non-avoidable food waste for composting. A city-wide household food scraps collection is in the pipeline for Auckland.

If you live in an area that doesn’t have access to a food scraps collection, you can recycle your scraps yourself through composting, or a bokashi or worm farm.

It can take a little time, money and effort to set up these systems, however, the payoff is huge as you keep food waste out of landfill, and you can return those nutrients to your garden to then grow your own food.

Any edible food that ends up in a compost or a food waste collection is still waste.  We buy food to feed our families, not to feed our compost bins, so by throwing away our leftovers or food we forget to use, we end up making very expensive compost. Learn more about how to reduce your food waste.



Composting is a natural way of recycling. It breaks down food into a rich compost that enriches soil and makes your garden beautiful and fruitful.

Composting requires you to have space in your backyard to set up bin and a garden on which to spread the compost.

Learn more: Composting 101


Food in Bokashi bin

Bokashi is a form of fermented composting which is done on a small scale and in a sealed container. It’s perfect for people who don’t have the space for a compost pile, have a small garden or who need compost in a hurry.

Learn more: Bokashi 101

Worm Farms

Worm Farm IStock.com Tommy Lee Walker

In a worm farm, special worms eat food scraps and other organic matter such as leaves and paper. Their byproducts – known as castings and liquid tea – are collected and can be applied to your garden as fertilizer.

Learn more: Worm Farm 101

Feed it to animals


Feeding food scraps to pets or animals is any easy way to dispose of your food waste. It can be a win-win situation; you are getting food for your animals and pets while also stopping your food waste from ending up in landfill. However, it is important that you make sure that the food you are feeding to animals is safe for them to eat.

Learn more: The foods you should never feed to animals

What to do if you don’t have a garden:

If you live in an apartment or high density housing area where you don’t have a garden or any outdoor space. then none of these systems may suit your living situation.

If that is you, here are some other options:

Tip: Collect your food scraps in the freezer until you have time to transport it. This will stop it from smelling and prevent fruit flies.