New World initiative aims to cut down on food waste

Before you throw out your dinner scraps, spare a thought for how much food you waste.

Around $100 million of leftovers gets discarded every year, according to Love Food Hate Waste.

Now New World is encouraging people to make the most of their food. The supermarket has recently committed to getting rid of single-use plastic bags. It's also ditching the meat trays, promising to make all of its own brand packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Now it's launching another environmental initiative to help reduce food waste in the home, giving away more than 1 million vacuum-sealed food storage containers to customers from next week.

Michelle Dickinson, aka Nanogirl, has been experimenting and says the containers keep food fresh in the fridge for an extra day or two.

"Oxidation is the thing that makes our food go bad," says Dr Dickenson. "It makes our apples go brown; it makes our avocado go brown; it makes our lettuce wilt. So by pulling out some of the oxygen you can slow down that reaction so that your food stays fresher for longer."

The food containers, known as PODs, come with a vacuum pump that sucks air out through a valve in the lid.

"Food that goes to landfill creates methane, which is bad for the environment," says Dr Dickinson. "It's also bad for your pocket - you're throwing away food that you've paid for."

Students at Epsom Girls' Grammar School have been learning about food sustainability and have their own tips for reducing waste.

"The things we waste most in my house is things like fresh produce, fruit and veg," says 17-year-old Sophie Wiltshire. "So if we have like overripe bananas maybe making banana cake, or if you've got overripe apples, stewing them to make a nice dessert or breakfast topping. And also when you buy new food maybe put it to the back of the fridge so use up the old ones first."

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Robinson says it's about planning.

"We need to stop buying ingredients that we don't actually use at home, and using as much of the ingredient as possible, like when it says to use two eggs and four egg yolks, what do you do with the extra egg whites."

The Love Food Hate Waste team has been campaigning for years to stop Kiwis throwing out good food.

"There is absolutely no excuse for New Zealanders not to be making the most of their leftovers, let alone the wizened, unused apples in the fruit bowl or the mountain of fruit on trees in their back gardens," says spokesperson Jenny Marshall.

"Initiatives like New World PODs can make a staggering difference to the amount of waste we're generating and also to our wallets."

The New World PODs promotion runs from Monday September 3 through to Sunday October 14.