Observation and self-awareness: the perfect starting point for all waste reduction action!

Observation and self-awareness: the perfect starting point for all waste reduction action!

The German waste management company AVL, in collaboration with a Stuttgart University doctorate student, conducted a survey of a number of households between March and May 2011. The conclusion was unmistakeable: the very act of inviting consumers to keep a record of their patterns of purchasing and throwing away food leads directly to a significant reduction in food waste.

The survey in brief…

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Who? 16 participating households, representing a total of 43 people, took part in this survey.

What? The survey looked at purchasing patterns and whether the food bought gets eaten as well as considering possible ways of reducing food waste in the future.

How? The survey was conducted in three phases. After a solely observational phase, participants were questioned and tested in a more targeted fashion on the subject of use by dates and their ways of storing and consuming food. In the third phase, the quantity of food waste produced by each household was represented in visual form with the aim of raising participants’ awareness of their patterns of food consumption and waste and encouraging them to find practical ways of reducing household food waste, such as more efficient planning of purchases and meals.

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Result? Over each phase we observed a reduction in food waste; proof that just the act of looking at the issue of food waste and keeping a record of purchasing patterns and individual consumption already has an effect on behaviour. When the survey was published, the average quantity of food waste per household had fallen by 58%! But will these households keep up their efforts over the long term?

A new project under way

Encouraged by the results of their first survey, AVL launched a new one with 40 households in the Ludwisburg district of Germany. They set up an Internet portal and an online log book where participants are invited to keep a running record of their consumption and refuse. The aim of this survey? To develop a tool that will be available both in Germany and in other countries.

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While the log book serves as a running record of households’ food waste, the software gives them an instant snapshot of their habits. With the result that households can gain awareness of their weak points and actively address them.

To find out more about the German waste management company, AVL, browse their website at www.avl-ludwigsburg.de.




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