IFLFWSG member Christian Reynolds recently published an article in the journal ‘Sustainability’ entitled:
Rescuing Food from the Organics Waste Stream to Feed the Food Insecure: An Economic and Environmental Assessment of Australian Food Rescue Operations Using Environmentally Extended Waste Input-Output Analysis
The summary points are that (in the Australia):
1) Food rescue operations generate approximately six kilograms of food waste per tonne of food rescued, at a cost of US$222 per tonne of food rescued. **This a lower cost than purchasing a tonne of comparable edible food at market value**
2) Per US dollar spent on food rescue, edible food to the value of US$5.71 (1863 calories) was rescued. Likewise, every US dollar spent on food rescue redirected food that represented 6.6 m3 of embodied water, 40.13 MJ of embodied energy, and 7.5 kilograms of embodied greenhouse gasses (CO2 equivalents)
3) Food rescue is a more expensive disposal option than landfill or composting, but food rescue provides the ability to re-direct food away from the waste stream to actually feed people – a valuable food security outcome.
It is also worth noting that this study was conducted with 2008 food waste and food rescue statistics. The Australian food rescue/food bank programme has now expanded considerably from the tonnages cited and so there could be greater economics/efficiencies of scale available.