What food waste solutions do people support?

Published: November 2021
Bibliographic reference: Linlin Fan, Brenna Ellison, Norbert L.W. Wilson; What Food Waste Solutions do People Support?; Journal of Cleaner Production 3030 (2022) 129907. https//doi.org/10.1016/j.clepro.2021.129907

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Abstract

In the U.S., the estimated food waste at the household level is 32% of purchased food, translating to $240 billion in economic losses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency set the first-ever national food waste reduction goal of a 50-percent reduction by 2030. Under this policy environment, this study assesses public support for nine food waste solutions: changes in food packaging, changes in portion sizes, standardization of date labeling terms, selling imperfect produce in retail stores, making donations easier, using uneaten food to feed animals, implementing composting in communities, consumer education campaigns on food waste, and taxing food waste. An online survey was sent to a nationally representative sample of U.S. respondents that asked about support for and perception of the effectiveness of each food waste solution. This study finds that making donations easier and the standardization of date labels were the most supported food waste solutions. Different food waste solutions appealed to different demographics of people based on their personal food waste experiences. Results are similar for the perception of the effectiveness of each food waste solution. Nevertheless, the percentage of respondents that considered each food waste solution to be effective was almost always less than the share of respondents who supported the solution. Thus, it is important to be cautious about this divergence when assessing public opinion on potential solutions, which may be enacted as policies designed to mitigate food waste.

Keywords: food waste, public support, effectiveness, date labels, food donations, package size

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