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Rescuing Food from the Organics Waste Stream to Feed the Food Insecure: An Economic and Environmental Assessment of Australian Food Rescue Operations Using Environmentally Extended Waste Input-Output Analysis

Author

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  • Christian John Reynolds

    () (Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Boulevard, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia)

  • Julia Piantadosi

    () (Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Boulevard, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia)

  • John Boland

    () (Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Boulevard, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia)

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the economic and environmental efficiency of charities and NGO’s “rescuing” food waste, using a 2008 case study of food rescue organisations in Australia. We quantify the tonnages, costs, and environmental impact of food rescued, and then compare food rescue to other food waste disposal methods composting and landfill. To our knowledge this is the first manuscript to comprehend the psychical flows of charity within an Input-Output framework—treating the charity donations as a waste product. We found that 18,105 tonnes of food waste was rescued, and calculate that food rescue operations generate approximately six kilograms of food waste per tonne of food rescued, at a cost of US$222 per tonne of food rescued. This a lower cost than purchasing a tonne of comparable edible food at market value. We also found that per US dollar spent on food rescue, edible food to the value of US$5.71 (1863 calories) was rescued. Likewise, every US dollar spent on food rescue redirected food that represented 6.6 m 3 of embodied water, 40.13 MJ of embodied energy, and 7.5 kilograms of embodied greenhouse gasses (CO 2 equivalents) from being sent to landfill or composting, and into mouths of the food insecure. We find that food rescue—though more economically costly than landfill or composting—is a lower cost method of obtaining food for the food insecure than direct purchasing.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian John Reynolds & Julia Piantadosi & John Boland, 2015. "Rescuing Food from the Organics Waste Stream to Feed the Food Insecure: An Economic and Environmental Assessment of Australian Food Rescue Operations Using Environmentally Extended Waste Input-Output ," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-20, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:7:y:2015:i:4:p:4707-4726:d:48497
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Reynolds, Christian John & Piantadosi, Julia & Buckley, Jonathan David & Weinstein, Philip & Boland, John, 2015. "Evaluation of the environmental impact of weekly food consumption in different socio-economic households in Australia using environmentally extended input–output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 58-64.
    2. Valerie Tarasuk & Joan Eakin, 2005. "Food assistance through “surplus” food: Insights from an ethnographic study of food bank work," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(2), pages 177-186, June.
    3. repec:bla:inecol:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:39-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Christian Reynolds & Julia Piantadosi & John Boland, 2014. "A Waste Supply-Use Analysis of Australian Waste Flows," Journal of Economic Structures, Springer;Pan-Pacific Association of Input-Output Studies (PAPAIOS), vol. 3(1), pages 1-16, December.
    5. Mary Griffin & Jeffery Sobal & Thomas Lyson, 2009. "An analysis of a community food waste stream," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 26(1), pages 67-81, March.
    6. Harriet Bulkeley & Nicky Gregson, 2009. "Crossing the threshold: municipal waste policy and household waste generation," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(4), pages 929-945, April.
    7. Hanjra, Munir A. & Qureshi, M. Ejaz, 2010. "Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 365-377, October.
    8. repec:ags:uersfr:266207 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Christian Lager, 1998. "Prices of Goods' and 'Bads': An Application of the Ricardian Theory of Differential Rent," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 203-223.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jagris:v:6:y:2016:i:1:p:9:d:64291 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1817-:d:114406 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Elisha Vlaholias & Kirrilly Thompson & Danielle Every & Drew Dawson, 2015. "Charity Starts … at Work? Conceptual Foundations for Research with Businesses that Donate to Food Redistribution Organisations," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-25, June.
    4. repec:gam:jagris:v:8:y:2018:i:12:p:200-:d:190528 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Christian John Reynolds & Miranda Mirosa & Brent Clothier, 2016. "New Zealand’s Food Waste: Estimating the Tonnes, Value, Calories and Resources Wasted," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-15, February.
    6. repec:spr:jecstr:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40008-018-0113-3 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    food waste; food rescue; Australia; charity; input-output; life cycle analysis; food security; emergency food aid; food poverty; food bank;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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