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Funding for New Zealand’s first sector wide food waste reduction programme

Date: 06 Jul 2023

A programme to reduce food waste across New Zealand’s retirement and aged care sector is to be launched following a successful pilot study at Arvida retirement communities earlier this year.

Retirement villages and aged care providers throughout the country will opt into the three year programme that will look to identify a baseline of how much food waste is produced – from meal preparation to leftover plate scraps.

The programme, which is being supported by more than $200,000 funding from the Ministry for the Environment, is being delivered by the University of Otago’s Food Waste Innovation.

The project will also look into the effectiveness of different interventions.  

“In the aged care sector, reducing food waste is not just an act of environmental stewardship, but a commitment to delivering effective nutrition for our residents and a deeper understanding of the impacts of our behaviours."

Bupa NZ Managing Director, Pedro Sanchez

“At Bupa we are already well on track to achieving our Net Zero by 2040 global target and have turned our attention to our waste streams to further reduce our impacts.

“A food waste reduction programme of this size and scale with the expertise of the University of Otago and the commitment of our sector, has the potential to deliver real sustainable benefits for our customers and New Zealand. We cannot wait to get started,” he says.

Arvida Chief Executive, Jeremy Nicoll, says the pilot found that when residents were involved in meal preparation, planning and service, it resulted in lower food waste – another benefit of Arvida’s resident-led approach and Attitude of Living Well philosophy.

Mr Nicoll says he’s pleased to see the programme expand to include the wider retirement and aged care sector because efforts combined will make a difference.

“A programme of this size will help us all to understand the amount of food waste our kitchens produce and to find ways to reduce it. As a responsible retirement provider, we set ourselves a goal to reduce our overall waste by 20% per community and programmes like this support our objective.”

The programme is in collaboration with the Retirement Villages Association (RVA), Arvida and Bupa.

The RVA’s Executive Director, John Collyns, says a programme of this kind shows the sector’s commitment to sustainability.

“Our residents and operators believe in playing their part to care for the environment This initiative will deliver significant benefits for the planet, but also demonstrate to other sectors what we can be achieved when communities work together to reduce food waste.”

A hui will be held on the project and providers and operators will have the chance to join the programme when it gets underway in mid to late 2023. 

Life at Bupa