Frequently Asked Questions.

We’re told no one ever reads these. We’re not so sure. We love FAQs.

We’ve had questions from curious kids, clever teachers, interested adults and businesses wanting to know a bit more about food waste, climate change, sustainability, circularity, food rescue in Aotearoa, fundraising and the Challenge. We’ve bundled these up. Browse below.

What is wasted food?

Food that goes in the bin or down the drain is wasted food. Some of this includes inedible parts of food like bones and eggshells, but a large amount of it is perfectly good food that doesn’t get eaten.

How much food is wasted worldwide?

From paddock to plate, roughly 1/3 of the world’s food is never eaten. Just by reducing food waste, we can reduce the need for land and resources, including water and fuel used to produce food as well as the greenhouse gases released in the process.

How does food in landfill feed climate change?

When food goes to landfill, it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to break down properly. Instead, it rots and releases methane—one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Project Drawdown found that trapped deep in landfill, even a lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose. Yes you read that right.

Food waste reduction is one of the single best ways to slow climate change. Throwing food away also means throwing away the water, land, labour, and transportation that went into growing that food. Throwing away one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower.

What impact does food waste have on global greenhouse emissions?

Food waste produces about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste was a country, it’d be the #3 global greenhouse gas emitter - according to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), global food waste represents more greenhouse gas emissions than any country in the world except for China and the United States.

How much food is wasted by homes in Aotearoa?

“The 2022 Rabobank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste survey found the average New Zealand household reported wasting 13.4 percent of the food they bought each week – significantly up on the 8.6 per cent recorded in the 2021 survey. This jump comes despite surging food prices which have further increased Kiwis’ weekly food spend and these two factors in combination have pushed the estimated value of food waste per Kiwi household to $1520 per year. At a national level, this equates to a total $3.1 billion of estimated wasted food – enough to feed the entire population of Hamilton for a year.”*

By our maths, and using the Ministry for Social Development figure that a meal costs $2.57**, wasting $1520 per year of food equates to a breakfast, lunch and dinner meal wasted every day for 197 days, which is just over 6 months! Using up all the food you buy helps support the planet and your pocket

*The 2022 RaboBank-KiwiHarvest Food Waste survey was administered by independent research agency KANTAR and involved interviews with 1509 New Zealanders between April 4 and April 18, 2022. Data collection was nationally representative to ensure that results could be used to measure New Zealanders attitudes and behaviours.
**Based on a $216 weekly cost of basic food for a family of four in Auckland in 2019.

What foods do households in Aotearoa waste the most?

Care of our friends at Love Food Hate Waste and comprehensive research undertaken in 2014/ 2015, these are the top 10 foods Kiwis throw out every year. With the rise in food prices, the value and so national cost would be ‘up’ on those included here.

Top 10 avoidable food types Tonnes National cost
1 Bread 15,174 $62,589,440
2 Leftovers 12,901 $140,374,320
3 Oranges and mandarins 6,302 $20,516,361
4 Apples 5,117 $14,818,152
5 Bananas 4,844 $12,933,883
6 Potatoes 4,767 $8,323,120
7 Poultry 4,083 $50,279,800
8 Rice 4,076 $2,675,883
9 Lettuce 3,754 $13,225,023
10 Beef 3,208 $45,825,926

How can I stop food waste at home?

The Zero Food Waste Challenge is an awareness week activation to get people talking about and tackling food waste.
The fact you are here is an awesome start.

To stop food waste at home, sign up to the Zero Food Waste Challenge!
John the Zero Food Waste Challenge Facebook page.
Follow the tips on social media.
Do your best.
Start small or do it all - whatever works best for you and your household.

For year round tips to tackle food waste and in season inspiration, recipes and resources see and

When is it?

Aotearoa’s first Zero Food Waste Challenge runs 19-25 September. It ends on Thursday 29 September, the United Nations International Day of Awareness of Food Waste and Loss.

Registration for the FREE Zero Food Waste Challenge online programme opens 22 August 2022 and closes 11.59pm Thursday 15 September. This is so you have the weekend to do any suggested prep if you wish.

Why are we doing this?

Never has talking about and tackling food waste being more necessary. There is a climate crisis and a cost of living crisis. Eco anxiety among our tamariki is prevalent and we know even small actions are a proven anecdote. At the same time, climate action, zero waste and zero hunger are sustainable development goals by 2030. That’s just over 88 months away. Yep we’re counting.

What the heck is the challenge?

A FREE 7-day Challenge to put nothing, nada, nil, zip, zilch, kore, zero food in the bin. You won’t be doing it on your own. We’ll give you plenty of tips, tricks and tools to help you make the most of your food. You’ll be doing a whole lot of good for the planet and your pocket. Oh, and there’ll be prizes and exclusive offers.

How does the challenge work?

As soon as you sign up, you’ll be sent a WELCOME email with downloadable resources - the Challenge at a glance, the Zero Food Waste Challenge Bingo game and a colour and learn book for kids and arty adults.

You'll also be introduced to your local food rescue organisation - so while you tackle food waste at home, you can learn about these local legends tackling food waste in your backyard and keeping it out of landfill.

In the week before the Challenge, we’ll send you a GET READY email with more downloadable resources to set you up for success.

Over the Challenge week, we’ll be sending out daily themed tips with more downloadable resources to help you make the most of your food.

What does the 7-day program cover?

Each day, we’ll introduce you to simple tips and tricks to tackle food waste and make your food go further. Do it all, do some, do what works for you today. You can always come back to it in the future. Along the way there are some recipes from food waste rock stars and goodies up for grabs.

Day 1 - Use it up. Cook what you have.
Day 2 - Store like a boss. The 101 of fridges, freezers and storage.
Day 3 - Use it all. Ends, stems, skins and stalks.
Day 4 - Upcycle. Repurposing with a purpose and easy preserving and pickling.
Day 5 - Have extra food? Share.
Day 6 - Love your leftovers. Make ‘em over.
Day 7 - Composting 101 and a Celebration!

Do I need to complete the challenge 100% to make a difference? Quick Answer, No!

Nope! A favourite quote of ours is from Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau: “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Start imperfectly. Start small. Do what you can do. Every mouthful counts.

Pick a tiny behaviour tweak that is easy for you - maybe it’s to eat or freeze leftovers OR start an ‘eat me first’ shelf OR learn about best before dates OR sharing your surplus food with a family member or friend. After each small zero food waste win when it didn’t go in the bin, give yourself a high five!

Signing up and starting a conversation means you're well on your way to helping the world and your wallet. Trust us, tiny can become mighty.

What does it cost to sign up? Quick Answer, Nada

It’s free! This has been made possible with a generous helping from Countdown and a side serving from The 5+ Charitable Trust and Panasonic Prime+ Edition. Zero food waste fans Love Food Hate Waste NZ, Auckland Council and the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance (our Inaugural Partner) have also pitched in - as have the good guys on the goodies page. Thanks team!

How do I sign up?

All you need is an email address. Sign up here

Who started the challenge?

The free Zero Food Waste Challenge has been created by a group of friends fed up with food waste. From our kitchen table, we’re bringing together food rescue charities across Aotearoa to spark conversation and change.

What’s the lowdown on the Goodies up for grabs?

Across the Challenge are Goodies up for grabs. These Goodies are from good folks doing interesting and innovative things to tackle food waste in Aotearoa. Together we are repositioning food waste for what it is - wasted food - a resource too valuable to throw away while the climate is in crisis and 1 in 5 kiwis are struggling to put food on the table.

We applaud our Goodies and hope by showcasing them, we encourage other budding environmental and social entrepreneurs to follow suit. By introducing them to you, we hope you support them in your quest for zero food waste that is kinder on the planet, kinder on your pocket and kinder to people too. See terms and conditions about the GOODIES prizes.

Follow us on Facebook where you can enter to win the goodies up for grabs!

What is food rescue?

Food rescue is when an organisation recovers good fit-to-eat surplus food from growers, manufacturers, retailers, hospitality and supermarkets to prevent it from being wasted. Slight imperfections, incorrect packaging, a product being discontinued, limited shelf life can all be reasons why the product may have gone to landfill. This is when food rescue can swoop in and come to the rescue.

Where does the surplus rescued food come from?

The food rescue sector is supported by food donors – supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, local growers and other food producers. We’d love to see all New Zealand supermarkets and food businesses follow Countdown’s lead and commit to donating all surplus food to their local food rescue partner rather than dumping it.

Where does the rescued food go?

1 in 5 New Zealanders are food insecure - meaning they don’t have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. That's a million of us Kiwis and kids struggling to put good food on the table.

Making sure that food gets to those who need it—rather than ending up in the bin —is an important factor in reducing food waste and supporting our communities.

Last year, members of the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance extended manaakitanga by distributing the equivalent of over 29 million meals to more than 1,000 frontline charities.

These frontline charities included food banks and social and community agencies such as family harm teams, women’s refuges, mental health support teams, asylum seekers and refugee centres, elderly support groups, disability support groups, social housing agencies, homeless and teen-parenting agencies, art therapy groups, early childhood and school food programs, social supermarkets, free stores and more.

Can I pitch in with my local food rescue organisation?

Yes! Contact your local food rescue organisation in your region and ask them if they have volunteering opportunities available. You can also ask if they do school tours or run a free store or community cookups. Donations are always welcome. And why not give them a follow on social media and spread the word about their mahi filling lives, not landfill?

I’m a business with surplus food. How do I donate it?

If you’re a business with surplus good food, contact your local food rescue organisation today and start something awesome.

How does the Good Samaritan clause in the Food Act protect my food donation?

A ‘Good Samaritan’ clause (section 352) was put into the Food Act 2014 to protect food businesses who donate food. Provided the food is safe and suitable when it is donated, and comes with any information needed to keep it safe and suitable, the donor is protected from liability under the Food Act.

How does the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance and food rescue members calculate the number of meals, carbon emissions and water saved for each kilo of food diverted from landfill?

Calculating meals. This calculation has become the de facto standard used by many food rescue groups and the Ministry of Social Development. One meal is equivalent to 350 grams of packaged or unpackaged food. Therefore every 1kg of food rescued is equivalent to 2.86 meals.

Calculating climate emissions. This is complex, and product and location specific. There is a range of CO2 formulas for rescued food from a variety of sources. The most common figure and average in the range is 2.65 kg of carbon emissions avoided for every 1kg of food rescued (less any wastage). In NZ, complete supply chain emissions have only been calculated for certain products. WRAP in the UK has conducted a more in-depth analysis which we utilise. For every 1 kilo of food rescued 2.65kg of CO2 is prevented.

Calculating water saved. Based on international examples, 830 litres of water across the supply chain is saved for every kilogram of food rescued. This is deemed a conservative calculation. This figure is based on conversations with ReFed, a US-based non-profit that works to eliminate food waste through evidence-based collaboration. For every 1 kilo of food rescued 830 litres of water is saved. 830 litres of water is the equivalent of 13 showers.

Calculating retail value. This calculation is based on a Ministry for Social Development figure, that a meal costs $2.57 (based on a $216 weekly cost of basic food for a family of four in Auckland in 2019). Similar to WasteMINZ’s National Food Waste Audits in 2018, we calculate 1kg of rescued food equals $7.35 in retail value.

Sidebar 1: these calculations have been adopted by the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance (AFRA) as best estimates for food rescue use at this point in time. They have come from a variety of sources in consultation with sector experts and are subject to change in the future as variables change e.g cost of food, production processes and so on.

Sidebar 2: The figures for greenhouse gas emissions are in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is a unit that converts the impact of different kinds of greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

Can I fundraise or be sponsored to do the challenge?

Yes, absolutely you can fundraise. The local food rescue organisation in your region would appreciate it! Check them out here and donate directly. Give us a holler or a share on social media about your fundraiser! Tag @zerofoodwastechallengenz so we can brag about you!

In the WELCOME email we’ll send you, we introduce you to your local food rescue charity and we include a sponsorship sheet you might find helpful. Get sponsored to do some or all of the tips that help tackle zero food waste.

On average in ordinary times for every $1 food rescue charities redistribute the equivalent of 3 meals - so even a dollar does a heap of good for people and the planet.

How are the donated funds used?

All participating food rescue organisations are charities who rely on a mix of donations, grants, government funding, business community investment, goods in kind and hardworking volunteers.

Fundamentally, a community and logistics operation with heart, food rescue charities have all the typical hard operating costs to cover including vehicles to keep running, chillers to keep chilled, warehousing related costs, compliance costs, insurances and so on.

What impact does my donation have?

The food rescue sector is one of the most efficient players in supporting communities with free food assistance.

For every $1 you donate, typically 2-4 meals are redistributed (operations, supply chain issues, food donations, weather events and so on, impact volumes rescued and redistributed at any one point in time).

Using a sector standardised calculation and an average of 3 meals distributed per $1 donated, is equivalent to about a kilo diverted from landfill and 2.65 kilos of carbon emissions prevented. So donate $10 and that’s 30 meals being 10 kilos diverted from landfill and 22.65 kilos of carbon emissions prevented. And so on, and so on.

Furthore, the community health and wellbeing benefits of providing food to communities extends well beyond the environmental impact and economic benefit. For example, used in shared community meals, the food helps foster connections and address social isolation. Used in school breakfast and lunch programs, it fosters learning.

How can we get involved?

Sign up! Either as an individual on behalf of an organisation OR encourage all participants from your organisation to sign up so they receive the daily tips and downloadable resources to use at home.

You can also challenge a colleague or another organisation to take part, give us a follow on social media and spread the word.

Are there resources?

Yes. The downloadable resources in the WELCOME pack we’ll be sending you as soon as you sign up can help you integrate the challenge, topic and tips into your classroom or organisation.

In the WELCOME pack you’ll get 1) The Challenge at a glance 2) Zero Food Waste Bingo game 3) A guide to zero food waste for curious kids (and their clever teachers), and 4) a sponsorship sheet - we’ve had some super-keen students wanting to fundraise for their local food rescue charity, so we have included a sponsorship sheet if students would like to get involved.

The FAQs also provide more content. If you wish to dive deeper, other great sources of information, inspiration, resources and recipes can be found at lovefoodhatewaste and 5aday.

Can students get involved with their local food rescue charity?

Contact your local food rescue organisation in your region and ask them if they have student volunteering opportunities available or other ways to contribute. Many do. You can also ask if they do school tours or run a free store or community cookups that may need a hand. Students can also spread the word about their mahi filling lives, not landfill and encourage their household to do the same.

Got questions?

Contact Us or check out the Faqs

Food rescue friends

The free Zero Food Waste Challenge has been created by a group of friends fed up with food waste. From The kitchen table, we’re bringing together food rescue charities across Aotearoa to spark conversation and change.

Working with a generous helping from


With a side serving from

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust
Panasonic Prime+ Edition

our inaugural partner

Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance

Also at the table, Zero Food Waste Fans

Love Food, Hate Waste NZ
NZ Digital
The Planet – Papatuanuku