Simulating Household Behaviours to Evaluate Food Waste Interventions
According to the National Food Waste Strategy Baseline report, 92% of Australian household food waste ends up in landfill (Arcadis, 2019). Households are responsible for about one-third by weight (or around 50% by dollar value) of the total food waste in Australia (FIAL, 2021). Further, around 60% of household food waste falls within the ‘avoidable’ category (i.e. food that could have been eaten rather than inedible components of food such as peelings or bones) (Karunasena et al. 2021).
Measuring the impact of household food waste interventions is costly and time-consuming. In part, this is because it requires large sample sizes to be able to detect any change in the amount of food wasted in households. This Project will create a simulation model that will assist in addressing this challenge. This requires developing a customised model for the Australian context by adapting the ongoing household simulation research being conducted by WRAP (UK).
The Project will generate evidence-based insights into the effectiveness of potential interventions to
reduce household food waste. It will identify effective pathways to reduce product-level household food waste by simulating household food management behaviour and decisions. The outputs of the project will provide guidance to improve decision-making on the anticipated impact of food waste interventions. This includes governments (Federal, State and Local), supermarket chains and other food retailers, food processors and manufacturers with consumer-facing brands, and other activist organisations. The project is being supported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Central Queensland University and WRAP (UK).
The Project will undertake:
1. A ‘Food Product Survey’ (the Retail Survey) to gather data on food safety life (both unopened and when opened) on key food products (those which are often wasted in households and are of interest to potential sponsors of interventions such as meat, bread, milk etc.) Data will be collected on pack size and product life (open, frozen, thawed and cooked) from a sample of supermarket chains in Australia.
2. A ‘Household Survey’ (the Household Survey) to identify a range of householder segments (or profiles) based on the household composition, consumption patterns, food management behaviours and decisions in relation to planning, shopping, storage, preparation, and disposal of food from a sample of Australian households.
3. A range of potential product-level interventions to reduce food waste in Australian households will be identified and theoretical testing of their impact undertaken using the model.
4. Modelling Framework – Develop and validate a modelling framework based on the adaptation of the model which is being used by WRAP (UK) based on many years of ongoing experience (WRAP, 2013). The modelling framework will be parameterised to test the effectiveness of selected product-level interventions and updated when new data is available on household food-related behaviours, household profiles, and product characteristics.
This project builds on FFW CRC’s ‘Household Project’, which provided Australian first research on household food waste reduction interventions in Australia with guidance on the most impactful behaviours and products to focus their efforts on (Karunasena et al 2022). It also complements FFW CRC’s ‘Evaluating Effectiveness of Household Food Waste Reduction Interventions Project’, providing further assistance to decision makers by allowing them to undertake theoretical modelling of the likely impact of interventions. This will enable sponsors, policy makers and researchers to undertake testing so they are able to refine interventions to ensure they focus efforts in the areas most likely to have the largest impact in reducing household food waste.
September 2022 – August 2024
Jayanath Ananda, CQUniversity