FareShare is committed to sustainability

FareShare remains as committed to sustainability as the day we set out to rescue food that would otherwise go to waste and cook it into nutritious meals. We’re proud of the work we’ve achieved but know there’s still more to be done. 

Here are a few of our current sustainability initiatives:

Transforming food waste into meals

Food waste remains one of the biggest challenges to sustainability. An estimated 30% or all food produced for human consumption never makes it to our plates. As a result, if food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China.1

When we waste food, we also waste the resources used to grow our food (water, soils and energy) including the primary nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – that sustain farming, plant growth, and all life on earth. Add to this all the energy used to process, package and transport food and it’s a recipe for disaster.

So, by rescuing 1,233,218kgs of food in 2023, FareShare helped reduce the environmental impacts of food waste, cut greenhouse pollution and conserve natural resources.

In the first quarter of 2024, FareShare’s drivers rescued more food than in any previous quarter, mostly from Woolworths Supermarkets across Melbourne – more than 250 tonnes of meat, vegetables, fruit and other valuable produce. This contributed to 461,000 cooked, nutritious meals. 

Crates of rescued produce ready to be sorted at our Derrimut warehouse and sent to our Abbotsford kitchen to be cooked into nutritious meals.

Closing the loop on our food waste

Our kitchens do whatever they can to reduce food waste too. What food scraps are left, such as vegetable peel and eggshells, are composted or sent to places that can repurpose them.

Our revamped Abbotsford kitchen will feature an innovative food and organic waste system (pictured, right) for our green waste – it can even process small meat bones!

Using the latest technology, the system accelerates the decomposition of food waste, reducing it into a much smaller quantity of dry and odourless residual material, which makes it easier to store and transport. 

This will then be used as compost to help grow veggies on our plot at the Baguley farm and in our kitchen gardens. In doing so, we will create a completely closed loop food production system.

FareShare production manager Crickette DerJeu and kitchen manager Tania Visentini show off the new organic waste system at Abbotsford kitchen.

Meal formats

Sustainability is always a consideration when determining FareShare meal formats and packaging options. 

Our new single-serve meals were designed to improve the choice, dignity, and presentation of our meals. They are also ideal for supporting individuals who may previously have received a family serve and may not have had access to a fridge. 

The environmental dividends of the new portion sizes are therefore less risk of food waste at the consumer end. 

Sustainable infrastructure

Our Melbourne and Brisbane kitchens and Derrimut warehouse have a combined 300kw of solar capacity that provides vital renewable energy for our operations.

We are boosting the solar capacity of our Brisbane kitchen with additional panels to improve our environmental and financial sustainability. 

In 2022, Tesla batteries were installed in our Melbourne warehouse. These were kindly donated by FareShare’s long term partner ENGIE, and connect us to the Simply Energy Virtual Power Plant.

This allows us to store over 40 kWh per day in energy generated from our solar panels, use it at night, and share any surplus with the local community.

Simply Energy CEO Shannon Hyde and FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho hold up crates of rescued food in front of the Tesla batteries at our Derrimut warehouse.

Improving our processes

Since 2022, our Melbourne kitchen has partnered with Reground, a social enterprise that helps organisations create a circular economy through waste collection and minimisation projects. They collect and recycle our soft plastic waste to keep it out of landfill and our oceans.

Our Melbourne warehouse recently switched to a reusable pallet wrap made from polyester and PVC. The material can be used thousands of times, massively reducing our reliance on single-use, stretch-film, plastic pallet wraps. Brisbane is currently trialling this too.

We have also increased our use of reusable crates to transport meals and food. This helps reduce single-use cardboard and the need for our charity meal relief partners to sort and recycle. They are also easier to stack and carry, making them more convenient. 

In 2023, we began a long-term trial of an e-Transit van, kindly lent to us by Ford Australia. This has not only allowed us to reduce our carbon emissions for the duration of the loan, it has also been instrumental in helping us assess the viability of electrifying our fleet of vans moving forward. 

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Chef Joseph demonstrates our soft plastic recycling system, part of our partnership with Reground.

Growing our own vegetables

FareShare grows vegetables on three sites in and around Melbourne to supplement rescued produce. In 2023, our kitchen gardens harvested more than 100 tonnes of vegetables to add nutrition and taste to our meals. 

Our kitchen gardens have also implemented a range of environmental measures. Our growing area on the Baguley farm has increased recycling efforts and has started composting used paper towels (a good carbon source) and the vegetable scraps at the farm. Our Abbotsford kitchen garden has also been composting scraps from the kitchen.

Our kitchen gardens are mulched with mushroom straw – a waste product from mushroom growing donated by a local oyster mushroom farmer. The benefits include an increase in our soil’s organic matter and less water evaporation, thereby reducing irrigation volumes and frequency.

Our Moorabbin kitchen garden is trialling a multi-species autumn/winter cover crop on some beds. This aims to increase soil organic matter and water holding capacity while decreasing irrigation frequency. It should also add nutrients to the crops that follow, stimulate beneficial fungi and microbes in the soil, and suppress weeds. 

All three of our gardens are optimising crop rotation to reduce pests and the impacts of soil-borne pathogens, such as white blister. Our garden crew also plant flowers to host beneficial insects to tackle pest insects.  

What's next?

FareShare’s Sustainability Working Group meets regularly to discuss ways we can further reduce our environmental footprint and become even more sustainable. 

In 2024, we will continue to roll out sustainability initiatives at FareShare. These are likely to include:

  • conducting audits across each site,
  • optimising our electricity use,
  • using our channels to empower our stakeholders to reduce their own food waste,
  • transitioning to electric vehicles wherever possible,
  • and banning disposable coffee cups, water bottles etc.

If you can think of other ways to help us become more sustainable, we’d love to hear it. Contact us here.

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