Exploring ways to change food waste behaviour

Research and analysis of behaviour in family households with children in the UK.

Globally it is estimated that one third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – roughly 1.3 billion tonnes per year (FAO, 2011). In medium and high income countries, such as the UK, a high proportion of food is wasted by consumers. In the EU, each consumer wastes an average of 123kg of food each year - and almost 80% of this is avoidable in that it is edible food that is not eaten (Vanham et al 2015).

But why is it that we throw away so much food? This research projects explores what causes food waste in households – and households with families in particular. Although food waste has been studied extensively, particularly in the UK, the factors behind food waste in households with children has not been focused on specifically and the causes of food waste appear to be dependent on the nature of the household. A key consideration is where parents get their information from to make key food waste-related decisions, such as when food is safe to eat and how to use up leftovers.

The research involves the analysis of the forums of parenting websites to see how they exchange information that influences food waste and what they tell us about the antecedents of food waste-related behaviour. The research will also involve spending time within family households to explore food waste practices.

This research is being carried out by Andy Ridgway, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication and Programme Leader of the MSc and PGCert courses in Science Communication.