Note: The list of key terms below relates to the particular context of this web resource on food waste.

Adsorb – When small particles like atoms and molecules stick to the surface of a material, they have been adsorbed. This is different from absorption, where a liquid is soaked up, like water into a sponge.

Biochar – The carbon-rich product which occurs when plant-derived biomass (such as wood, manure, or crop residues) is heated in a closed container with little or no available air.

Biodegradable plastic – Plastics, typically polycaprolactone (PCL), polylactic acid (PLA), and polyurethane (PU), which can be degraded by biological, and principally microbial processes.

Biodegradable product – The meaning of biodegradable is very broad, but generally means a product will break down naturally with the help of microbes, producing water, CO2 (and methane if oxygen isn’t present), and biomass. Biodegradable products can be made from a wide range of materials, and don’t all break down as readily as one another or in the same environments or time scales. Note that ‘degradable’ (rather than biodegradable) can be used to describe plastics that simply fragment into small pieces or microplastics, persisting in the environment. One of the main types of degradable plastics, oxo-degradable plastic, has recently been banned in Aotearoa.

Bokashi ‘sprinkle’ – A mix of microbes, water, sugar, and carbon-rich material (also called bran) which is used to maintain a healthy environment for bokashi microbes.

Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) – CO2e is a metric used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential (GWP). It is calculated by converting amounts of greenhouse gases to the equivalent amount of CO2 with the same global warming potential.

Carbon sequestration – The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere (where it contributes to global warming) and storage through natural or artificial processes.

Circular economy – A sustainable approach to resource use where waste and pollution are viewed as design flaws, products and materials are kept in use as long as possible, and nutrients and energy are captured at the end of a product’s life to regenerate natural systems.

Compostable product – Compostable products are certified products which are expected to break down in large-scale, community-level, and/or home compost systems. Compostable products may be plastic-based or fibre-based.

Energy recovery – Capturing the energy held in food waste so that it can be used to generate heat or electricity, or as a fuel or natural gas equivalent.

Food recovery hierarchy – A framework for thinking about solutions to food waste, prioritising interventions according to which types of solutions are likely to deliver the most environmental and social good.

Food rescue – The process by which edible surplus food at risk of going to waste is distributed for human consumption, typically through a charitable model.

Frass – Insect poo.

Leachate – Water that has move through a solid (such as the contents of a landfill or compost bin) and carried some material with it. It not managed, leachate can seep into the ground, introducing contaminants or excessive concentrations of certain nutrients.

Material recovery – The use of inedible components of food at risk of going to waste to produce useful materials, such as fibre-based packaging.

Nutrient recovery – Capturing nutrients from food waste so that they can be used in agricultural systems, gardens, and to regenerate natural environments.

Organic – Being or coming from living plants and animals (e.g., food waste, manure, sewage sludge, crop residues).

PFAS – Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals which are used to make coatings in products like food packaging that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.

Thermal pasteurisation – A relatively mild heat treatment in which a liquid is heated to less than 100°C to kill or inactivate microbes.

Upcycling – Keeping food at risk of going to waste in the human food supply chain by creating new food products from by-products or unmarketable foods such as stale bread, offcuts, or damaged produce.

Vermicast – Worm poo.

Vermicomposting – The technical name for worm farming.

Windrow – A long line or row of heaped material.

Te reo Māori terms

Kai – Food.

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship.

Kaupapa – Subject, theme, or purpose.

Mana – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, mana refers to autonomy, security and self-determination, and the role that food production can play in expression of these values.

Mana motuhake – Self-determination, independence, autonomy.

Māramatanga – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, māramatanga refers to the insight and enlightenment gained through food production.

Mauri – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, mauri refers to environmental health and the energy and essence of life, and how this can be upheld through sustainable practices such as holistic ecosystem management.

Papatūānuku – In Māori tradition, Papatūānuku is mother earth. Pūrākau about Papatūānuku emphasise the relationship between people and the planet, with the earth mother described as being the source of all life, including people.

Pūrākau – Myth, ancient legend, or story. According to Dan Hikuroa, some pūrākau codify knowledge generated using techniques consistent with the scientific method, explained according to a Māori world view.

Ranginui – In Māori tradition, Ranginui is the sky father. As with Papatūānuku, pūrākau about Ranginui emphasise the relationship between people and the planet.

Rukenga kai – Food that is re-used or cast onwards, a phrase used by Auckland Council following consultation with mana whenua to describe food waste, reflecting its value as a resource.

Te ao Māori – The Māori world.

Te ao tūroa – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, te ao tūroa refers to maintenance of the natural order of the world, for example by understanding, protecting, and restoring native species and restricting the use of synthetic inputs to food systems.

Te taiao – The natural world or environment.

Wairua – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, wairua refers to the spiritual health and peace of the land, food, and people.

Whakapapa – In the context of the Hua Parakore initiative, whakapapa refers to our connection to the natural environment.

Date released: 29 March 2023
Last updated: 29 March 2023