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Household food waste quantification: comparison of two methods

Mathilde Delley (Department of Food Science and Management, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland)
Thomas A. Brunner (Department of Food Science and Management, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 7 August 2018

Issue publication date: 7 August 2018

2400

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to quantify household food waste by using two different methods. A comparison of the results highlights a divergence between the perceived contribution to the problem and more objective measurements.

Design/methodology/approach

Self-reported quantities, collected by means of a postal survey sent out to a random sample of the French- and German-speaking Swiss population, were compared to extrapolations from a national waste compositional analysis report.

Findings

The results of the self-reported survey showed 8.9 kg of avoidable and possibly avoidable household food waste per capita per year, whereas calculations based on the second method resulted in a total of 89.4 kg of mostly avoidable household food waste per capita per year.

Research limitations/implications

This striking tenfold discrepancy between the two sets of results highlights the extent of under-reporting in self-assessment and speaks in favour of using more objective methods to quantify food waste, building on the example of the second method used in this study.

Practical implications

The discrepancy highlighted here could be used as a hook in an awareness-raising campaign to highlight everyone’s contribution to the food waste issue and encourage citizens to reconsider their behaviour and adopt recommended behavioural changes.

Originality/value

By highlighting the divergence between self-reported and actual waste management facts and figures, this paper justifies the need to develop measures to encourage citizens to reconsider their attitudes and practices.

Keywords

Citation

Delley, M. and Brunner, T.A. (2018), "Household food waste quantification: comparison of two methods", British Food Journal, Vol. 120 No. 7, pp. 1504-1515. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2017-0486

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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