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Urban household food waste: drivers and practices in Toronto, Canada

Belinda Li (School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)
Virginia Maclaren (Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Tammara Soma (School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 25 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




The purpose of this paper is to understand determinants of food waste through analysing patterns of practices including shopping, planning, consumption of leftovers and attitudes around best-before dates.


A survey and waste composition analysis of 142 households was conducted in the City of Toronto. Bivariate analyses and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) using a structural equation model were used to identify relationships between per capita food waste, household socio-demographic characteristics and household food practices.


Constructs related to planning practices and best-before date practices were identified through the CFA. Household size and the best-before construct were negatively correlated with per capita food waste. The planning construct had no correlation, which may be attributed to the influence of the retail environment in encouraging unplanned purchases. The best-before construct was significantly correlated with the presence of children in the home, an indicator of the compromises that parents make in domestic provisioning to ensure healthy foods for their children, such as more caution in handling items after their best-before dates.


This is the first study of its kind that uses directly measured per capita food waste from a waste composition study in a structural equation model with a construct related to best-before dates to determine drivers of food waste. It is also the first to find that children in the home can have an indirect influence on food waste through the household's best-before practices.



Funding: This research was funded by George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd. through the Seeding Food Innovation Grant program.


Li, B., Maclaren, V. and Soma, T. (2021), "Urban household food waste: drivers and practices in Toronto, Canada", British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 5, pp. 1793-1809.



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