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100 tonnes of food saved

Waiwaste Food Rescue co-ordinator Elise Sadler and volunteer Lynn Lister. PHOTO/ELI HILL

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More than 100 tonnes of surplus food was saved from going to landfill last year by Masterton food rescue group Waiwaste.

In its five years of existence, the group has saved 177 tonnes of food and provided Wairarapa people with 506,811 meals.

Waiwaste Masterton began in 2015, and in its first year saved just 2.7 tonnes of food, mostly from cafes and bakeries, co-ordinator Elise Sadler said.

“In the first year we stayed small because we wanted to get our systems correct.

“It was really important that we became a professional organisation that businesses can rely on, when we say we will be there at a time we will be there.”

But in 2018 and 2019, the organisation began to ramp up its collecting with 47 tonnes of food saved in 2018 and 106 tonnes in 2019.

“That’s the supermarkets coming on board plus just more awareness.

“There is far more awareness in the business community now around food waste so they’re endeavouring to work towards zero waste themselves and Waiwaste is a particularly good way for them to try achieve that.”

Waiwaste Masterton’s 25 volunteers collect from supermarkets and dairies daily and also collect from cafes, bakeries, and food producers.

“The food producers are things like Henergy and Breadcraft, if they have some kind of production surplus, they call us, so we are pretty much bringing in food from all of the outlets and food producers in Wairarapa.

“Also, now we collect from farmers – so when they have too many lettuces for the market that week, they’ll call us and we’ll go and bring all that fresh produce in.”

Sadler said businesses were now well aware that dumping in the landfill was increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In its five years, Waiwaste has reduced carbon emissions from food waste by just over 138 tonnes.

“We would like to work towards zero waste really being zero waste.

“At this moment that’s not feasible so we will use the surplus.

“Climate change has become an emergency, requiring each and every one of us to act.

“This is our contribution, to divert food from the landfills, into hungry tummies.”

Food collected goes to the Community Kitchen and Masterton Foodbank where it is distributed into food parcels and to community.

The Community Kitchen cooks emergency meals and freezes them for people in need in the community.

“Agencies can pick up and give to their clients. They also run cooking classes for people referred to them.

“We’re really delighted about that because some people who get the food parcels may not know what to do with those fresh vegetables.”

Heading into 2020, Waiwaste is aiming to bring businesses and growers on board that they haven’t reached out to yet.

“We’d love to use less petrol in volunteers’ cars – it’d be great to get an electric van to reduce emissions for pickups.”

  • More information about Waiwaste can be found at www.waiwaste.org.nz.

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