Lonely Planet Writer

Brisbane airport is helping distribute uneaten airline food to local charities

Brisbane airport has joined a new initiative to distribute uneaten food directly from airlines to local charities in need.

If unopened, this delicious meal would be classed as airline food waste.
Even first class meals make their way to the charities. Image by ballyscanlon

The charity OzHarvest Brisbane work with the airlines flying in and out of the airport to collect uneaten sandwiches, fruit, bars and biscuits and even delicious meals from first class. They receive between 200 and 400 kilos of food every day, which are distributed to local charities within two hours.

Manager Cameron Hickey told ABC News the move benefits both the charities and the airlines. “We collect the food that didn’t end up on the flight or did end up on the flight but hasn’t been opened,” he said. “Pretty much anything you’re seeing on an airline is something we can redistribute, as long as it’s still in a fit state to eat.”

The move is unusual as most industries are restricted about what food they can give away due to safety reasons. However, because airline food waste is sealed up and the charity works directly with the airport, they can fully comply with health and safety standards while redistributing the excess.


In the future, OzHarvest wants to work with the rest of the airport, including airline kitchens and food vendors, to help them streamlining their process before moving on to other industries. The charity has been in existence since 2004 and works to collect good-quality excess foods from commercial outlets all over Australia, helping more than 200 charities. As well as distributing the food, they also help airlines to reduce their food waste by tracking the food wasted by type, quantity and date, making them more efficient.

The move is the latest in a series of initiatives popping up around the world to combat food waste. At this year’s Rio Olympics, a master chef will use leftovers from the Olympic Village to create healthy meals for those in need. Copenhagen also played host to a month-long Japanese food festival in June where all the dishes were created using out of date produce.