Australians are on track to throw out $10.3 billion in food this year, an alarming problem that has been accelerated by the coronavirus crisis.

Each household is expected to toss $1043 worth of food in the bin this year - 12.7 per cent of the food they buy - new figures from Rabobank show.

And 10 per cent of Australians admit to producing more waste due to the pandemic.

Those aged 23 and younger are the worst offenders, tossing away a staggering 18.4 per cent of their food, compared to 6 per cent for Baby Boomers.

The worst states for food wastage are NSW (14 per cent) and Queensland (12 per cent), while West Australians are on track to produce 2 per cent less food waste this year.

Residents in South Australia (11 per cent), Victoria (10.1 per cent) and Tasmania (7.7 per cent) perform slightly better.

Capital city dwellers are more wasteful on average, binning 13.6 per cent of what they buy, while those in the country throw away less than 12 per cent.

Not only does food waste contribute to the global hunger crisis, it also negatively impacts climate change.

Aussies' addiction to coffee is another factor, with billions of kilos of fruit wasted each year to support our habit.

Vanessa Murillo is the founder of I Am Grounded, which uses discarded coffee fruit to make health food bars. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Vanessa Murillo is the founder of I Am Grounded, which uses discarded coffee fruit to make health food bars. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

Coffee beans come from the juicy red husk of Arabica cherries but what is left gets tossed away.

The average Australian will consume 11kg of coffee beans each year, totalling 57kg of coffee fruit. The discarded fruit releases about 16.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions into the environment each year as it rots.

Brisbane-based entrepreneur Vanessa Murillo has decided to do something about this, making energy bars out of the discarded coffee fruit. 

Ms Murillo and her partner Lachlan Powell are the founders of I Am Grounded, a businesses which reuses 70 grams of fruit and offsets 56 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per bar.

"Speciality coffee has really grown in Australia and people consider themselves coffee connoisseurs but a lot of them don't know coffee is actually a fruit," she said.

"We've nearly hit two tonnes of coffee fruit upcycled," she said.

Tasmanian strawberry farmer Sophie Nichols is another entrepreneur tackling the food waste problem.

Thousands of surplus strawberries were spilling out of the freezers at Little Berry Farm, based just outside Hobart, thanks to one seriously hot summer.

Sophie Nichols uses her surplus strawberries to make gin and liqueur. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Richard Jupe
Sophie Nichols uses her surplus strawberries to make gin and liqueur. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Richard Jupe

Ms Nichols said she struggled to offload the excess strawberries to local sauce companies who wouldn't pay for them and she couldn't bear to see them go to waste.

"We had all this amazing beautiful fruit that tasted amazing and I thought, I don't want to just feed it to sheep," Ms Nichols said.

She contacted the family that owned the neighbouring potato farm, known for producing alcohol out of its produce.

"I gave them some strawberries and three months later they sent me some sample bottles," Ms Nicholls said. 

The berry farmer has since sold 1000 bottles of strawberry gin and liqueur and stopped more than 500kg of excess berries going to waste in one summer alone.

"I'm big on sustainability and, for the size that we are, we should have no waste," she said.

Originally published as Australia's $10 billion shame

She said the company has upcycled about two tonnes of discarded coffee fruit so far. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
She said the company has upcycled about two tonnes of discarded coffee fruit so far. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
She said the farm should not be producing any waste and wanted to do something about it. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Richard Jupe
She said the farm should not be producing any waste and wanted to do something about it. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Richard Jupe

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