How to guide


> Waste Free Lunches
Spread the word about the benefits of packing a healthy, waste-free lunch


‘Waste free lunches’: it’s simply food that is packed without packaging! Why and what?! Well, on average, a child who has a disposable lunch generates three pieces of rubbish per day, which equals a monstrous 30kg of waste per child per year! By making the most of the natural packaging of food (e.g. peels, skins, rinds, etc) and by wrapping food in packaging that can be re-used or recycled, you’ll be drastically reducing the environmental impact of your food.

Waste free is all about packing a healthy, wrapper-free lunch that’s good for both your body and the environment. Going ‘waste free’ is easy to do and has lots of benefits, including:

Use a Cool Australia waste-auditing tool to dig deeper into measuring our impact.  

By making a small change, such as removing disposable packaging and single use items such as juice boxes, disposable utensils, plastic wrap and straws, we can make a BIG difference!

How To Do It

Select one of the options below or come up with your own creative way to encourage students to pack a waste free lunch:

  • Host a picnic inviting students to bring along a waste free food lunch. Take photos of the best examples. Use these to develop a fact sheet that talks about how waste impacts the environment/how you can reduce waste and share with the school community (e.g. buy in bulk and use re-usable containers.)
  • Run a waste free lunch class/house group challenge to see who can reduce the most packaging from their lunches in a single week. Award the winning class with an excursion (e.g. bowling or going to the movies.)
  • Hold a waste free lunchbox art show to help raise awareness. Ask students to create an artwork inside their lunchbox/lunch container using wrapper free foods (e.g. Japanese bento box style).

Quick tip: Take pictures of your chosen action and share them on social media with a simple message about the environmental benefits of waste free food.

Whole school tip

To get the whole school involved in reducing waste with you: use an assembly to introduce the waste free food concept and your chosen action that you would like them to take part in.

What’s Our Impact?

Look at how much waste you’ve reduced by going nude. Use the figures below as a guide to measure your impact:

Three pieces of waste a day is equal to 30kg of waste per year. Approximately 1kg of plastic has a 6kg CO2e carbon footprint. What does that mean?

  • 30kg fills a 240L wheelie bin or equals 180 CO2e (CO2 equivalent) kg a year
  • 22kg fills a shopping trolley (175L) or 132 CO2e kg a year
  • 75kg fills a shopping basket (30L) or 22.5 CO2e kg per year



Fast Facts

One year’s worth of packaging in landfill creates as much greenhouse gas as 860,000 cars

Australians throw out 1.9 million tonnes of packaging each year – enough to fill the MCG 9 times over.

Fill one quarter of a bottle with oil … That’s how much oil it takes to produce one litre of bottled water!

Australians throw away up to 20% of the food they purchase. This equates to one out of every five bags of groceries.

Australians waste 4 million tonnes of food a year. This equates to 523kg for each household, which is the same weight as more than five average sized fridges.

The food that Australia wastes each year is enough to fill 450,000 rubbish trucks. Placed end to end, they would bridge the gap between Australia and New Zealand – more than three times.