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Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4707-4726; doi:10.3390/su7044707

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

Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Boulevard, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095, Australia
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Academic Editors: Kirrilly Thompson, Drew Dawson and Anne Sharp
Received: 17 February 2015 / Revised: 8 April 2015 / Accepted: 14 April 2015 / Published: 21 April 2015
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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 m3 of embodied water, 40.13 MJ of embodied energy, and 7.5 kilograms of embodied greenhouse gasses (CO2 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: food waste; food rescue; Australia; charity; input-output; life cycle analysis; food security; emergency food aid; food poverty; food bank food waste; food rescue; Australia; charity; input-output; life cycle analysis; food security; emergency food aid; food poverty; food bank
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Reynolds, C.J.; Piantadosi, J.; Boland, J. 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. Sustainability 2015, 7, 4707-4726.

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