Food waste in Australian households: Why does it occur?


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    Food waste has become a major issue, adding to environmental degradation, economic impoverishment and social tensions around the world. This article examines what is currently known in the literature about why food waste occurs at the household level. After reviewing what is known about the relevant demographic characteristics and broad behavioural drivers, these findings are applied to examine the potential causes of, and solutions to, household food waste in Australia. This research suggests that high levels of food waste may emerge from the interaction of activities associated with planning, shopping, storage, preparation and consumption of food. The literature also indicates the significance of behavioural drivers such as: lack of awareness; lack of negative economic impact; high quality standards; insufficient purchase planning; over-purchasing and cooking; lack of kitchen skills; high sensitivity to food safety; and changing meal plans. Although many of the findings presented have emerged from studies across numerous cultural and economic contexts, and are therefore necessarily general, they provide a valuable indication of some common drivers of household food waste. As such, this article provides a basis for the development of other more context specific investigations and interventions into the prevention of household food waste.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118-132
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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