A GROUP of Edith Cowan University (ECU) students recently won the Enactus National Championships for their waste prevention program.
A group of six students represented the ECU Enactus team at the national championships in Sydney and will represent Australia for the Enactus World Cup in Canada in September.
They won the Graham Kraehe Community Project – Brambles Food Waste Challenge and were crowned Enactus National Champions for their Waste Not program, collecting prizes totalling $10,000.
The program provides initiatives such as an environmental impact report on food waste to local businesses in the cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo.
Through the program, the students teach businesses about food waste and used social, economic and environmental factors to encourage improvements in agricultural production, the provision of food service and through community awareness.
“The restaurant and cafe industry are one of the biggest contributors of food waste yet are poorly trained in reducing food waste,” ECU Enactus president and biotechnology student Chaminda Ranasinghe said.
“Food waste reduction is an important aspect in ensuring food justice and is a factor that can impact world hunger.
“If we reuse and consume all of the food that is on our plate we will also reduce what goes into landfill.
“By reducing our carbon footprint we are reducing global warming.
“When we think about the food we buy, grow and make, we should not only think about where it has come from but also where it will go if we don’t consume it.
“This kind of food waste in Australia alone contributes to double the carbon footprint of the rest of the world.
“Changing behaviours is a long term initiative and we believe education is vital in the success of this program.”
Secretary Mitchell Roberts said they started the Waste Not program last year and were currently working with three venues; Aroma Cafe, Pure and Natural Cafe, and Cafe Elixir.
Enactus founding director and chief executive Judy Howard said the Waste Not team demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and enhanced their communication skills through project management, problem solving and networking skills.
“The program has shown a strong plan for self-sufficiency and the ability to be successfully implemented into the community,” she said.
Board member Phillip Austin said the team showed “strong business acumen and entrepreneurial skills in development of this community-wide project”.
Mr Roberts said another Enactus project was ‘Net University’, which aimed to improve skills and empower seniors using digital technology.
“Net University came about in 2013 when one of our members recognised a gap between senior and technology while they were at the local cinema,” he said.
“It turned out many seniors did not have an email address and therefore could not sign up to the cinema loyalty card program.
“We later realised that there is a huge demand for tablet devices.
“Since then we have delivered iPad and Android tablet classes to nearly 400 seniors at two of our local libraries and UniBank.”
Enactus ECU is a member of the global Enactus organisation, a non-profit alliance spread across 36 countries that develops projects to benefit communities through entrepreneurial action.
It is based at the School of Business and Law under the supervision of faculty advisors Janet Simmons and Vicki Hodgson.
The team has won the runners-up position last year and this was the first national win for the team in 15 years.