Disposing bad habits: New research aims to improve household bin behaviour

Compost image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

A new research project aims to understand household behaviours around food waste in order to reduce the amount of food sent to landfill.

The project - www (what, where and why) of Household Food Waste Behaviour - will promote a circular economy where nutrients from food waste go back into the compost industry.

The ultimate aim is to save greenhouse gas emissions from damaging our climate further when food waste rots in landfill.

The project is a collaboration between the Fight Food Waste CRC, East Waste, the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA and sub-contractor Rawtec.

East Waste Chair Fraser Bell says that diverting food waste from landfill represents the single biggest financial and environmental opportunity for councils.

“Food waste is a valuable commodity and we hope to improve household bin disposal behaviour,” Mr Bell said.

“Through this new research, we will build a picture of the behaviour of our residents, including the levers that can influence positive and sustainable changes in their practices moving forward."

Professor Wendy Umberger, Executive Director of the Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide, says the project will use micro-waste auditing, ongoing waste disposal monitoring technology including waste-weighing, and novel household surveys to understand behaviour from a broad-section of the community.

“The improved understanding of food waste behaviour will ultimately allow research partners to design efficient programs to reduce household food waste from entering landfill."Professor Wendy Umberger, Executive Director, Centre for Global Food and Resources, The University of Adelaide

Typically, organic waste constitutes between 30-50% of what is placed in household landfill bins for collection. Australian’s generate 2.3 million tonnes of household food waste each year that currently goes to landfill according to the National Food Waste Baseline report. 

Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Officer Dr Steven Lapidge says this exciting SA project complements the Fight Food Waste CRC’s national research efforts focused on household food waste behaviour change.

“This is a big opportunity for Australians to save money through reducing household food waste, as well as to divert as much unavoidable food waste from landfill.

“Local governments across Australia can learn from this leading research project.”

Further project information

Tagged in Research, Engagement and Industry, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Waite Research Institute, Agriculture, Food Science