Craig Reucassel in a scene from the TV series War on Waste.
Craig Reucassel in a scene from the TV series War on Waste. ABC

The Chaser's Craig Reucassel is at war with waste

AUSTRALIANS are shockers when it comes to waste, as Craig Reucassel has discovered.

The TV presenter and comedian, best known as a member of The Chaser team, is out to make us think twice about what we buy, what we wear and what we throw away in his new ABC series War on Waste.

The three-part documentary examines Australia's mounting waste problem, which is growing at double the rate of our population.

But Craig's not out to browbeat you. As a father-of-four he knows first hand how hard it is to be environmentally conscious while raising a family.

"I think a lot of people are overwhelmed by the amount of waste they have," he tells The Guide.

"A large part of food waste is in your own home, and I know in my household buying too much in the first instance is part of the problem.

"Different weeks we're better or worse at composting. Cooking food before it goes off is another one of the challenges we're trying to deal with in our house."

The series looks at food, farm, plastics, fashion and coffee cup waste and provides practical advice on how we can make simple changes to our thinking and behaviours to reduce the staggering volumes of waste we produce.

Many consumers are confused, Craig says, about what's recyclable and what's not, and are out of touch with the farmers who put food on our plates.

"I don't want to blame cooking shows but we have an obsession with getting this great produce no matter what time of year it is. We want to make this perfect meal for the night and that can lead to waste," he says.

"There's a real sense from the farmers I visited that people in the city have lost touch with the effort and energy that goes into the food.

"It's not just complacency. It's about knowledge. You can give people an understanding of how they can reduce waste and they are happy to do it."

Craig even learned to scuba dive for the show's segment on plastic in the ocean, but it was the task of going through suburban rubbish bins that he found the most challenging.

"On a 40C day in a tiny garage we went through 10 families' bins," he says.

And in true Chaser style, Craig also takes on the supermarkets and politicians in order to get some answers.

"We finally managed to chat to a couple of supermarkets, but getting progress out of them is going to be really slow," he says.

"Some things need to be done by government, like the plastic bags ban, and the supermarkets but a lot can be done by us just changing our attitudes."

Despite witnessing truckloads of wasted food and plastic-littered beaches, Craig is hopeful we can turn things around.

"The frustrating thing is you see so much waste and the solution isn't always simple, but I think we can do a lot of change in this area," he says.

"I've been amazed at how some people, who saw a bit about coffee cup recycling we put on Facebook, and no longer use the cups and the show's not even out yet."

War on Waste premieres on Tuesday at 8.30pm on ABC1.

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