WWW (What, Where and Why) of Household Food Waste Behaviour

Wheelie bins

Background

According to the National Food Waste Baseline 2.3 million tonnes of household food waste or 92% currently goes to landfill each year.  Typically, food waste constitutes between 30-50% of the residual bin. Diversion of food waste away from the residual bin and landfill represents the single biggest financial and environmental opportunity for Councils, with savings in the order of $150/tonne in South Australia. For East Waste this represents 19,000 tonnes and $2.7 M p.a. Further, in a circular economy context it is known that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled, 9.2 full time jobs are created compared to 2.8 jobs when sent to landfill. Building on existing international research, the project will utilise detailed micro-waste auditing, ongoing waste disposal monitoring technology (bin weighing), and novel household surveys from a broad cross-section of the community, to develop a comprehensive report on household  food waste bin behaviour, including drivers of behaviour and opportunities to deliver household behaviour change.  The improved understanding of food waste behaviour will allow research partners to design efficient programs to reduce household food waste from entering landfill.  Specifically, the project will provide insight on:

  • Food waste profiles (generation, recycling and contamination levels) at the household level
  • How food waste profiles differ by socio-demographics, knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, dietary and food consumption behaviour and across time
  • Whether sorting food waste leads to lower food waste generation volumes (due to greater awareness)
  • Factors that drive desirable vs undesirable food waste behaviours
  • The major barriers preventing households from reducing and recycling their food waste
  • Efficient initiatives that are most likely to help households to reduce and recycle their food waste and prevent it from entering landfill

Project objectives

The aim of the project is to understand household and the broader community’s in-house waste behaviours in order to deliver targeted education, behaviour change and incentive-based programs. This will be delivered through three broad project activities:

1. Increased understanding of factors that drive household food waste behaviour, and how it differs across space, time and demographics; including:

  • Food waste profiles (generation, recycling and contamination levels) at the household level
  • How food waste profiles differ by demographic, diets/consumer behaviour and across time
  • Whether sorting food waste leads to lower food waste generation volumes (due to greater awareness)
  • Factors that drive desirable vs undesirable food waste behaviours
  • The major barriers preventing households from reducing and recycling their food waste
  • Initiatives that are most likely to help households to reduce and recycle their food waste
  • Success will be measured through the extent to which the program builds upon existing knowledge and the depth and applicability of the qualitative data collected.

2. Insight into the cost-effectiveness of how differing incentives, education and regulation can change behaviour;

  • Delivery of community accepted and effective behaviour change.

3. Ultimately the key aim is to reduce food waste, firstly in generation and secondly in volume ending up in landfill.  Through increasing awareness, delivering targeted education and implementing various incentives, the aim is to create a greater understanding within households of the volume of food waste and opportunities for reuse and reduction. Hence, it is envisaged that a quantifiable reduction in food waste will be realised. Importantly data and knowledge generated will allow significantly refined and more purposeful programs, education and policy into the future.

  •   * Tonnes (by weight/household) collected.

Project materials, outputs and publications

Professor Wendy Umberger gave a radio interview on May 28 about the new Fight Food Waste CRC project. Sue Reece presents the ‘Environment Show’ on Radio Adelaide.

Project partners

The project is a collaboration between the Fight Food Waste CRC, East Waste, the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA and sub-contractor Rawtec.

Lead institution

Collaborating institutions:

Funding: Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, 2020-2022

Tagged in Projects:Food system innovation, Active projects