Food waste volume and composition in Finnish households

Kirsi Silvennoinen (Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Argifood Research, Helsinki, Finland)
Juha-Matti Katajajuuri (Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Argifood Research, Helsinki, Finland)
Hanna Hartikainen (Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Argifood Research, Helsinki, Finland)
Lotta Heikkilä (Economic Research, MTT Agrifood Research, Helsinki, Finland)
Anu Reinikainen (Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Agrifood Research, Helsinki, Finland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 27 May 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the volume and quality of food waste in Finnish households and discuss drivers for waste being produced.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 380 households weighed all solid food waste and liquid milk waste daily each time they disposed food during a two-week period. The authors concentrated only on avoidable food waste, i.e. all wasted food and raw material that could have been consumed, had they been stored or prepared differently. Other biowaste, such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, or bones, was not measured.

Findings

The amount of food waste in households ranged from 0 to 160 kg/year. The average annual food waste was 23 kg per capita, 63 kg per household, and in total about 120 million kg/year. When comparing purchased food amount with avoidable food waste, the average waste was about 4-5 per cent. The main discarded foodstuffs were vegetables, home-cooked food and milk products. The principal reasons for disposing of foodstuffs were spoilage: e.g. mould, expiry of best before or use by date, plate leftovers, and preparing more food than needed. When examining waste per person, singles generally produced most waste.

Practical implications

Knowledge about food waste will help development of new practices to decrease waste.

Originality/value

The study estimated amounts of food waste in households using diaries and weighing. Such studies have often been based on statistics or interviews rather than exact weighing of waste.

Keywords

Citation

Silvennoinen, K., Katajajuuri, J., Hartikainen, H., Heikkilä, L. and Reinikainen, A. (2014), "Food waste volume and composition in Finnish households", British Food Journal, Vol. 116 No. 6, pp. 1058-1068. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-12-2012-0311

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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