Research project aims to cut food waste in UK

Published: 7 June 2021 at 10:03

A dustbin full of food waste

ARU Consumer Psychologist is awarded funding to help tackle £14bn problem

Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, a Consumer Psychologist at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has been awarded funding from the charity WRAP to help tackle food waste – an issue that costs UK households almost £14 billion every year.

It has been estimated that households throw away approximately 4.5 million tonnes of food waste annually, which is around 16% of all food purchased. This wasted food is enough to fill eight Wembley Stadiums, or 38 million wheelie bins. Although some of this is collected separately by local councils or is home composted, the majority still ends up in household mixed waste.

WRAP, a charity that works with governments, businesses, and communities to find ways of using resources more sustainably, has calculated that each person in the UK wastes around 69kg of food per year, at a cost of £210. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the most binned item, and 41% of all wasted food is thrown away because it hadn’t been used in time.

Dr Jansson-Boyd’s £59,122 funding from WRAP will allow her to investigate whether households are less likely to waste fresh food if they are provided with clear and detailed information about the contents of their fridge.

The project will involve recruiting 200 households to take part in the seven-and-a-half-month study. Participants will use a chart to record all fresh food bought. The chart will map which dates the food needs to be used by and advise whether the items can be frozen, should it not be eaten by its use-by date.

Dr Jansson-Boyd, Associate Professor in Consumer Psychology at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“This new study will focus on whether presenting information, in a clear and accessible way, about exactly what’s in our fridge and how long it’s been there can change our behaviour and lead to less food being wasted.

“As fresh food is the most wasted type of food in the UK our research will specifically focus on this, therefore ensuring a bigger environmental impact if the trial is found to reduce household food waste.  

“The study could potentially result in a method that can be easily implemented and used in households across the UK, ensuring that we eat what we buy, helping us to save money as well as precious resources.”

 

For further information or to take part in the study, please email cathrine.jansson@aru.ac.uk