Social media: the real impact on food waste reduction beyond the swipe or the click
Social media campaigns have been run across many countries including Australia, the UK, US and the Netherlands in order to reduce consumer food waste. In Australia, this households waste equals 2.3 million tonnes of food per year according to the National Food Waste Baseline (Arcadis 2019). Tackling food waste in this part of the supply chain is the focus of the FFW CRC’s Designing effective interventions to reduce household food waste project. This project released a summary report in 2019. Data was gathered from a national survey of 5200 households. Amongst the findings was the startling fact that only 23% of household food managers recalled seeing anything about reducing food waste in the past 12 months. For there to be a reduction in household food waste, Australians need to know that this is an issue.
Social media can assist with raising awareness however we want to better understand what people do next in their real world after viewing content on social media in terms of real food waste reduction.
Helping Australians save money by reducing their food waste is more important than ever in these current tough economic times as a result of COVID-19 and the associated economic disruption. Reaching large numbers of Australians with these messages can be difficult, however, using social media to communicate these messages is one approach that will reach a large audience in a cost and time-effective manner. But does it have a real impact on food waste reduction beyond the swipe or the click?
Social media can provide simple and clear messages to help Australians save money by giving them tips and tricks to reduce their food waste. Although these campaigns gain exposure, their influence is underexamined in scientific research and limited evidence exists in prior studies to ascertain the link between social media campaigns and public behavioural changes. Due to the novelty of social media, most research has to-date focused on the tactical use of social media (eg interactivity, amplification), rather than their effects on persuasion or changes in behaviour.
This project will enhance our understanding of the real benefits of using social media to communicate the opportunities for consumers to reduce their food waste. While social media is increasingly being used globally for this purpose, there is very little data comparing its impact and return on investment. Results from this study will benefit industries, such as health/nutrition, that run such campaigns and societies that receive them.