What does it take to feed Melbourne?

Foodprint report web coverFoodprint Melbourne has for the first time estimated the environmental impact of Melbourne’s food consumption. The results are available in the new report Melbourne’s Foodprint – What does it take to feed a city?

The full report with all the figures and information is available for download here:
Foodprint Melbourne – What does it take to feed a city

What does it take to feed Melbourne?

It takes a lot of land, water and energy to feed a rapidly growing city like Melbourne, and a significant amount of food waste and GHG emissions are generated as a result. Some of the key findings are:

  • It takes over 475L of water per capita per day to feed Melbourne, which is around double the city’s household usage
  • 16.31 million hectares of land is required to feed Melbourne each year, an area equivalent to 72% of the state of Victoria
  • Feeding Melbourne generates over 907,537 tonnes of edible food waste, which represents a waste of 3.6 million hectares of land and 180 GL of water each year
  • Producing the city’s food creates around 4.09 million tonnes of GHG emissions. The city’s food waste emits a further 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

As supplies of the natural resources that underpin food production become more constrained, the city will need to explore new approaches to improve the sustainability and resilience of its food supply. This report aims to provide an evidence base to support this process.

The impact of feeding Melbourne is increasing

The report includes estimates of the future foodprint of Melbourne as the population grows, as well as strategies for reducing the city’s foodprint. Findings include:

  • Melbourne’s city foodbowl could play an important role in increasing the resilience and sustainability of the city’s food supply
  • The city foodbowl has significant capacity for production of fresh foods, has access to recycled water and organic waste streams, and could reduce the city’s dependence on distant sources of fresh foods.
  • Key vulnerabilities in Melbourne’s regional food supply include loss of agricultural land, water scarcity and the impacts of climate change

Improving the sustainability and resilience of Melbourne’s food supply

Increasing the sustainability and resilience of Melbourne’s regional food supply is likely to require multiple strategies. These could include shifting to regenerative agriculture, increasing the use of recycled water for agriculture, reducing food waste and modifying our diets.

The impact of some of these changes include:

  • Around 10% of the available recycled water from Melbourne’s water treatment plants would be enough to grow half of the vegetables that Melbourne eats
  • Increasing urban density as Melbourne grows could reduce urban sprawl by about 50% over the next 20 years, saving 180,000 hectares of land in Melbourne’s foodbowl – an area equivalent to almost 5 times Victoria’s vegetable growing land

Download the report here.

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