Quantifying the prevention potential of avoidable food waste in households using a self-reporting approach
The prevention of avoidable food waste at consumer level is an issue of increasing importance, yet persists with no evident solution. Recently the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDG) set a new challenge to overcome in sustainable consumption, namely the target 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030 at retail and consumer level. This paper aims to show that it is indeed possible for households to achieve this target using an approach that builds on positive effects of interventions and kitchen diaries. We present an intervention method that is not only beneficial to gather data regarding avoidable food waste in households, but also contributes to reduce it. In this context, we compared the short-term impacts of two different types of self-reporting and coaching methods to reduce avoidable food waste in households. Therefore we implemented in two separate panels of households in the same area once an offline-system and once a web-based online-system. The study outcomes are based on experimental data collected in these two sets of household panels demonstrating a clear improvement in the participant’s behavior regarding food purchase and waste production. The main finding of our study is a reduction of avoidable food waste by more than 50% of fresh mass for both panels, showing that households can achieve this part of the SDG 12.3. Based on the method’s effectiveness, we encourage its wider use and further development.