My thesis defense is upcoming 16 November 2018 at Western University and you are invited van der Werf thesis defense presentation poster 211018
Full abstract is below:
The amount of food wasted is a topic of societal and academic interest. As academic
research in this area is nascent, there are significant knowledge gaps, which this
dissertation seeks to narrow, pertaining to: (1) the measurement of food waste; (2) the
human behaviors that lead to wasting of food; and (3) the development of efficacious
food waste reduction interventions.
A systematic literature review of 55 food waste estimates showed that on average 114.3
kg/capita/year is wasted from consumption (i.e., household) and 198.9 kg/capita/year
across the entire food supply chain. There is considerable uncertainty with this data
because of the different food waste measurements methodologies employed.
Household waste composition study data (2012-2015) from 9 Ontario municipalities, that
used the same direct measurement methodology and included a single “food waste”
category, were aggregated and analyzed to develop estimates of food waste in the
garbage stream. This methodology, which showed households disposed 2.40 kg/week of
food waste in the garbage, was used as the basis of a bespoke household food waste
To better understand food wasting behavior and facilitate the development of an effective
intervention the theory of planned behavior (TPB) was used to inform the development of
a survey, which was administered to households in London, Ontario, Canada. Households
(n=1,263) threw out avoidable food 4.8 times/week and perceived behavioral control
(p<0.001) and personal attitudes (p<0.01), in particular, were significantly associated
with less food wasting behavior. Further, 58.9% selected reducing monetary loss as the
primary motivator to reducing this behavior.
A “Reduce Food Waste, Save Money” household intervention, which combined elements
of behavioral economics (nudging the desire to reduce monetary loss) and the TPB
(strengthening perceived behavioral control), was developed, tested and assessed in a
randomized control trial. Treatment total household food waste decreased by 31% and
this was significantly greater (p=0.02) than for control households. Key determinants of
avoidable food waste reduction included personal attitudes, perceived behavioral control,
the number of people in a household and the amount of garbage set out.
This research can contribute directly to food waste reduction policy in national,
provincial, and municipal contexts.
Keywords: food waste, household food waste, theory of planned behavior, behavioral
economics, waste characterization, intervention