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Special Issue "Understanding, Measuring and Avoiding Food Waste across the Food Chain"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Kirrilly Thompson

The Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: human-animal relations, animal studies, risk perception, risk mitigation, risk management, equine anthrozoology, safety, culture, horses, behaviour change, natural disasters and emergencies, ethnography, mixed-methods research, spain, bullfighting
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Drew Dawson

Appleton Institute, CQUniversity Australia, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, South Australia 5034, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +61-8-8378-4512
Interests: applied psychology, health and well-being
Guest Editor
Dr. Anne Sharp

Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +61-8-830-20637
Interests: sustainable marketing; marketing science; waste management; behavior change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The amount of food wasted by households in developed countries has reached worrying proportions, with indications that up to a quarter of food brought into the home is subsequently discarded uneaten. The impact of such waste on consumers’ and producers’ pockets is rivaled only by the impact on the environment through its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Increased avoidance of food waste and the recycling of “unavoidable” food discards represents one of the greatest landfill diversion opportunities and policy priority areas for governments. This is evidenced by initiatives such as the current global Food Loss and Waste Protocol effort to develop global standards for measuring food loss and waste along the food chain.

This special issue will feature the latest theoretical, empirical and methodological progress in food waste research, across the entire food chain. It will bring together work from international food waste researchers across a range of disciplines, as well as key papers from the Australian ENVIRO 2014 conference’s special session on food waste. We are interested in papers covering a range of approaches to food waste diversion, disposal and recycling that not only enhance our understanding of the problem, but also offer solutions based on theory and research. In addition to contributions from stakeholders in environmental accounting, food production, marketing and waste research, we invite papers from “unusual quarters” such as regarding food history, or media and diet analyses.

Papers selected for this special issue will be subject to a rigorous peer review procedure with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments and applications.

Following is a list of “reference papers” that are relevant for the SI topic:

  1. Evans, D. Beyond the throwaway society: Ordinary domestic practice and a sociological approach to household food waste. Sociology 2012, 46, 41–56.
  2. Garnett, T. Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)? Food Policy 2011, 36, 522–532.
  3. Parfitt, J.; Barthel, M.; Macnaughton, S. Food waste within food supply chains: Quantification and potential for change to 2050. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2010, 365, 3065–3081.
  4. Quested, T.E.; Marsh, E.; Stunell, D.; Parry, A.D. Spaghetti soup: the complex world of food waste behaviours. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2013, 78, 43–51.
  5. Quested, T.; Robert, I.; Parry, A. Household food and drink waste in the United Kingdom 2012. Available online: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/household-food-and-drink-waste-uk-2012 (accessed on 28 April 2014).
  6. Schneider, F. Wasting Food—An Insistent Behaviour. In Proceedings of Waste—the Social Context, Edmonton, AB, Canada, 8–11 May 2011; pp. X1–X10.
  7. Van Garde, S.J.; Woodburn, M.J. Food discard practices of householders. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 1987, 87, 322–329.

Dr. Kirrilly Thompson
Prof. Dr. Drew Dawson
Dr. Anne Sharp
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • understanding
  • measuring
  • avoiding food waste across the food chain

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Charity Starts … at Work? Conceptual Foundations for Research with Businesses that Donate to Food Redistribution Organisations
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7997-8021; doi:10.3390/su7067997
Received: 13 April 2015 / Revised: 16 June 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 19 June 2015
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Abstract
As global concern about sustainability, food waste, and poverty increases, there is an urgent need to understand what motivates businesses to adopt pro-social and pro-environmental behaviours. This paper suggests that food redistribution organisations hold both pro-social and pro-environmental aims, due to their concern
[...] Read more.
As global concern about sustainability, food waste, and poverty increases, there is an urgent need to understand what motivates businesses to adopt pro-social and pro-environmental behaviours. This paper suggests that food redistribution organisations hold both pro-social and pro-environmental aims, due to their concern with reducing food surplus and food insecurity. To achieve this, they must motivate food businesses to donate their surplus food. However, little is known about the values, attitudes, and motives of food industry donors. The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical and conceptual overview to set out principles from which empirical data on food redistribution will be analysed or critiqued. Specifically, it explores pro-social and pro-environmental literature, as these fields have examined the motivations behind donations and reducing environmental impact. This review highlights that charitable giving of food is different to other inorganic material, such as money. Thus, future research is needed to capture the unique temporal, emotional, social, and environmental factors that motivate food donations. This information may contribute to the development of strategies that target and motivate people from the food industry to become food donors. Alternatively, it may reveal concerns about food donations, and highlight the need for other approaches to food waste and food insecurity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Garbage Project Revisited: From a 20th Century Archaeology of Food Waste to a Contemporary Study of Food Packaging Waste
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6994-7010; doi:10.3390/su7066994
Received: 2 March 2015 / Revised: 15 May 2015 / Accepted: 19 May 2015 / Published: 2 June 2015
PDF Full-text (271 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 1973, Dr. Bill Rathje and his students at the University of Arizona began what was to become a two decade long investigation into American consumer waste habits. An archaeologist by profession, Rathje decided to adapt traditional archaeological methods and apply them to
[...] Read more.
In 1973, Dr. Bill Rathje and his students at the University of Arizona began what was to become a two decade long investigation into American consumer waste habits. An archaeologist by profession, Rathje decided to adapt traditional archaeological methods and apply them to contemporary archaeological situations. This provided a platform for improving the understanding of what was really happening with, amongst other forms of waste, food at the consumer household level. The Garbage Project was able to study consumer behaviours directly from the material realities they left behind rather than from self-conscious self-reports of surveys and interviews. Using the same rationale, this study developed a profile of the packaged and processed food consumption in three regional Victorian municipalities. The main findings identified that consumers were limited to the food retail opportunities closest to their home and that they took greater care to wash out recyclables if they were placed in the recycling bin compared to the same item placed in a kerbside landfill bin. There was also an apparent lack of understanding about appropriate food storage and buying for purpose, especially with regard to the volume of the item they purchased, which appears to result in partially used recyclable containers being put in the kerbside landfill bin. By understanding the nature of the packaging and food that has been thrown away, it is possible to develop a narrative around what people understand about food purchasing practices, longevity, storage and how they use it at home. This in turn can assist community engagement and education around nutrition, meal planning and purchasing as well as community waste education. Full article
Open AccessArticle What’s in a Dog’s Breakfast? Considering the Social, Veterinary and Environmental Implications of Feeding Food Scraps to Pets Using Three Australian Surveys
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7195-7213; doi:10.3390/su7067195
Received: 2 May 2015 / Revised: 25 May 2015 / Accepted: 26 May 2015 / Published: 2 June 2015
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Abstract
Diverting food waste away from landfills is one way to minimise its serious environmental impact. Given that over a third of Australian households have at least one pet, the feeding of food waste to dogs constitutes one potentially significant waste diversion path. However,
[...] Read more.
Diverting food waste away from landfills is one way to minimise its serious environmental impact. Given that over a third of Australian households have at least one pet, the feeding of food waste to dogs constitutes one potentially significant waste diversion path. However, the proportion of dog owners that feed food waste to their pets is unknown. Moreover, there has been no investigation into any relationship between practices of feeding scraps to pets and the animals’ body condition, living arrangements (inside or outside) and exercise regime. To provide some insight, this paper presents findings from three surveys across two Australian studies. The first reports both pet and dog-specific findings from two surveys within a wider food waste research project (n = 1017), establishing that 28% of respondents fed leftovers to pets as a main food waste minimization strategy, yet in only 5% of households did this constitute more than half of the household’s food scraps. This modest diversion of food scraps from landfill to feeding pets was reflected in the finding that there was no significant difference seen in the claimed level of food discards to the waste stream for households feeding food scraps to dogs and those that did not. The second—a dog owner specific study (n = 355)—found that almost half (44%) of respondents reported feeding table scraps to dogs. They were more likely to be females, owners of medium sized dogs, and in larger households. There was no significant difference in self-rated dogs’ body condition scores between respondents who fed table scraps to their dog and those who did not. Further multidisciplinary research is recommended to reconcile the social, veterinary and environmental risks and benefits of feeding food waste to animals. Full article
Open AccessArticle Rescuing Food from the Organics Waste Stream to Feed the Food Insecure: An Economic and Environmental Assessment of Australian Food Rescue Operations Using Environmentally Extended Waste Input-Output Analysis
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4707-4726; doi:10.3390/su7044707
Received: 17 February 2015 / Revised: 8 April 2015 / Accepted: 14 April 2015 / Published: 21 April 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1504 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper we investigate the economic and environmental efficiency of charities and NGO’s “rescuing” food waste, using a 2008 case study of food rescue organisations in Australia. We quantify the tonnages, costs, and environmental impact of food rescued, and then compare food
[...] Read more.
In this paper we investigate the economic and environmental efficiency of charities and NGO’s “rescuing” food waste, using a 2008 case study of food rescue organisations in Australia. We quantify the tonnages, costs, and environmental impact of food rescued, and then compare food rescue to other food waste disposal methods composting and landfill. To our knowledge this is the first manuscript to comprehend the psychical flows of charity within an Input-Output framework—treating the charity donations as a waste product. We found that 18,105 tonnes of food waste was rescued, and calculate that food rescue operations generate approximately six kilograms of food waste per tonne of food rescued, at a cost of US$222 per tonne of food rescued. This a lower cost than purchasing a tonne of comparable edible food at market value. We also found that per US dollar spent on food rescue, edible food to the value of US$5.71 (1863 calories) was rescued. Likewise, every US dollar spent on food rescue redirected food that represented 6.6 m3 of embodied water, 40.13 MJ of embodied energy, and 7.5 kilograms of embodied greenhouse gasses (CO2 equivalents) from being sent to landfill or composting, and into mouths of the food insecure. We find that food rescue—though more economically costly than landfill or composting—is a lower cost method of obtaining food for the food insecure than direct purchasing. Full article
Open AccessArticle Glass vs. Plastic: Life Cycle Assessment of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Bottles across Global Supply Chains
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2818-2840; doi:10.3390/su7032818
Received: 11 December 2014 / Revised: 23 February 2015 / Accepted: 2 March 2015 / Published: 9 March 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (6767 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The environmental impacts of global food supply chains are growing with the need for their measurement and management. This paper explores the operations of a global supply chain for extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) according to a life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The LCA
[...] Read more.
The environmental impacts of global food supply chains are growing with the need for their measurement and management. This paper explores the operations of a global supply chain for extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) according to a life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The LCA assessment methodology is applied to determine the environmental impact categories associated with the bottled EVOO life cycle, focusing on packaging decisions. The proposed analysis identifies the greatest environmental stressors of the EVOO supply chain, thereby supporting strategic and operative decisions toward more efficient and environmentally-friendly operations management and packaging choices. This paper quantifies the environmental categories of the impacts of global warming potential, ozone layer depletion, non-renewable energy use, acidification, eutrophication and photochemical smog, for the observed EVOO supply chain, given alternative packaging configurations, i.e., a glass bottle vs. a plastic bottle. The observed system includes the supply of EVOO, the EVOO processing and bottling, the supply of packaging, the distribution of final products to customers, the end-of-life (EOL) treatments regarding the management, recycling and the disposal of waste across a global supply chain. The findings from the LCA highlight the potential of PET bottles in reducing the environmental impact of EVOO supply chains and identifies hotspots of discussion for policy-makers, EVOO producers and consumers. Full article
Open AccessArticle Food Waste Generation at Household Level: Results of a Survey among Employees of Two European Research Centers in Italy and Germany
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2695-2715; doi:10.3390/su7032695
Received: 19 January 2015 / Revised: 26 February 2015 / Accepted: 2 March 2015 / Published: 5 March 2015
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1522 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a broad consensus in literature that private households are significant contributors to the total amount of food waste in the EU. Thus, any strategy to meaningfully combat food wastage must put the end consumer in the center of prevention activities. This
[...] Read more.
There is a broad consensus in literature that private households are significant contributors to the total amount of food waste in the EU. Thus, any strategy to meaningfully combat food wastage must put the end consumer in the center of prevention activities. This requires deeper insights into people’s motivations to discard still edible food and knowledge about potential barriers to reduce wasting. This paper reports on results of an online survey among two European research centers in Italy (JRC/Ispra) and Germany (KIT/Karlsruhe). The focus of the survey was on households’ behaviors (shopping, eating, and food preparation habits) and its influence on the generation of food waste. Furthermore, reasons for the disposal of food as well as measures and technologies most needed to prevent wastage were discussed. The results of the survey are analyzed, especially with regard to two questions: (1) Are there considerable differences between Ispra and Karlsruhe? (2) Are there considerable similarities or inconsistencies with the results of previous studies? Full article
Open AccessArticle Cutting Food Waste through Cooperation along the Food Supply Chain
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1429-1445; doi:10.3390/su7021429
Received: 7 November 2014 / Accepted: 21 January 2015 / Published: 28 January 2015
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (829 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Food produced but not used for human consumption is a waste of natural resources. In order to prevent and reduce food waste, the main causes have to be identified systematically along the food supply chain (FSC). The aim of this study is (1)
[...] Read more.
Food produced but not used for human consumption is a waste of natural resources. In order to prevent and reduce food waste, the main causes have to be identified systematically along the food supply chain (FSC). The aim of this study is (1) to shed light on the causes and effects of food waste through the analysis of 44 qualitative expert interviews examining the processes and intermediaries along the German food chain and (2) to find methods to reduce it. Results indicate that food waste occurs at all stages in the food chain. Thus, there is no single culprit to be blamed. Besides, the identified reasons for food waste differ between product groups; not a single solution can cause notable change. Furthermore, the analysis demonstrates that the causes and effects of food waste are to be found at different stages of the value chain. Hence, it is of high importance to improve communication and to raise a new appreciation for food among all stakeholders of the food supply chain in order to develop a more sustainable food system. Information on the topic of food waste needs to be shared among all actors of the supply chain. They need to share responsibility and work together to reduce food waste. Full article
Open AccessArticle Ethanol Production from Enzymatically Treated Dried Food Waste Using Enzymes Produced On-Site
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1446-1458; doi:10.3390/su7021446
Received: 9 October 2014 / Accepted: 16 January 2015 / Published: 28 January 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (852 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The environmental crisis and the need to find renewable fuel alternatives have made production of biofuels an important priority. At the same time, the increasing production of food waste is an important environmental issue. For this reason, production of ethanol from food waste
[...] Read more.
The environmental crisis and the need to find renewable fuel alternatives have made production of biofuels an important priority. At the same time, the increasing production of food waste is an important environmental issue. For this reason, production of ethanol from food waste is an interesting approach. Volumes of food waste are reduced and ethanol production does not compete with food production. In this work, we evaluated the possibility of using source-separated household food waste for the production of ethanol. To minimize the cost of ethanol production, the hydrolytic enzymes that are necessary for cellulose hydrolysis were produced in-house using the thermophillic fungus Myceliophthora thermophila. At the initial stage of the study, production of these thermophilic enzymes was studied and optimized, resulting in an activity of 0.28 FPU/mL in the extracellular broth. These enzymes were used to saccharify household food waste at a high dry material consistency of 30% w/w, followed by fermentation. Ethanol production reached 19.27 g/L with a volumetric productivity of 0.92 g/L·h, whereas only 5.98 g/L of ethanol was produced with a volumetric productivity of 0.28 g/L·h when no enzymatic saccharification was used. Full article
Open AccessArticle Food Waste Auditing at Three Florida Schools
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1370-1387; doi:10.3390/su7021370
Received: 17 November 2014 / Revised: 11 December 2014 / Accepted: 12 January 2015 / Published: 27 January 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1092 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
School cafeterias are a significant source of food waste and represent an ideal opportunity for diverting food waste from landfills. In this study, cafeteria waste audits were conducted at three Florida schools. Food waste comprised the largest fraction of school cafeteria waste streams,
[...] Read more.
School cafeterias are a significant source of food waste and represent an ideal opportunity for diverting food waste from landfills. In this study, cafeteria waste audits were conducted at three Florida schools. Food waste comprised the largest fraction of school cafeteria waste streams, ranging from 47% to 58%, followed by milk, paper products (tissue, milk cartons, pasteboard, paper plates, and cardboard), and plastics (plastic wrap, packaging, and utensils). Metal and glass comprised the smallest fraction of the waste stream. Average total waste generation ranged from 50.5 to 137.6 g·student−1·day−1. The mean generation rates for food waste ranged from 24.7 to 64.9 g·student−1·day−1. The overall average for cafeteria waste generation among all three schools was 102.3 g·student−1·day−1, with food waste alone contributing 52.2 g·student−1·day−1. There are two primary approaches to diverting school food waste from landfills: reduction and recycling. Food waste can be reduced through educating students and staff in order to change behaviors that cause food waste. Food waste can be collected and recycled through composting or anaerobic digestion in order to generate beneficial end products, including soil amendments and bioenergy. Over 75% of the cafeteria waste measured in this study could be recycled in this manner. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Consumer-Related Food Waste: Causes and Potential for Action
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6457-6477; doi:10.3390/su7066457
Received: 27 February 2015 / Revised: 24 April 2015 / Accepted: 11 May 2015 / Published: 26 May 2015
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (713 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the past decade, food waste has received increased attention on both academic and societal levels. As a cause of negative economic, environmental and social effects, food waste is considered to be one of the sustainability issues that needs to be addressed. In
[...] Read more.
In the past decade, food waste has received increased attention on both academic and societal levels. As a cause of negative economic, environmental and social effects, food waste is considered to be one of the sustainability issues that needs to be addressed. In developed countries, consumers are one of the biggest sources of food waste. To successfully reduce consumer-related food waste, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the factors influencing food waste-related consumer perceptions and behaviors. The present paper presents the results of a literature review and expert interviews on factors causing consumer-related food waste in households and supply chains. Results show that consumers’ motivation to avoid food waste, their management skills of food provisioning and food handling and their trade-offs between priorities have an extensive influence on their food waste behaviors. We identify actions that governments, societal stakeholders and retailers can undertake to reduce consumer-related food waste, highlighting that synergistic actions between all parties are most promising. Further research should focus on exploring specific food waste contexts and interactions more in-depth. Experiments and interventions in particular can contribute to a shift from analysis to solutions. Full article

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