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Policies against Consumer Food Waste

Policies against Consumer Food Waste

Policy options for behaviour change including public campaigns

This report translates the findings of the REFRESH project on consumer behaviour into policy recommendations. It helps national and regional policy makers in designing and improving appropriate interventions against food waste. It focus on policy instruments that aim to reduce consumer food waste including in-home and out-of-home consumption.

Policy instruments that exist to influence consumer food waste can be clustered into five categories:

  • Information and awareness raising campaigns
  • Regulation
  • Economic instruments
  • Nudging/change of consumer's choice architecture and
  • Voluntary agreements.

Within the EU the most often used instrument so far is public campaigns that have been designed to provide information that increases awareness of the consequences of food waste. However, there are only very few studies that have evaluated to what extent these activities actually reduced or prevented food waste. Meta-analysis of pro-environmental behaviour experiments though have shown that intervention strategies that only provide information belong to the least successful. So the common assumption that providing information is sufficient to induce behavioural change is not supported by the evidence.

The reports key recommendations are summarized in the REFRESH Policy Brief: Reducing consumer food waste.


Wunder, Stephanie et. al. 2019: Policies against consumer food waste. Policy options for behaviour change including public campaigns. Background report contributing to "REFRESH Policy Brief: Reducing consumer food waste" of the EU Horizon 2020 REFRESH project.

Erica van Herpen (Wageningen University)
Lisanne van Geffen (Wageningen University)
Åsa Stenmarck (IVL)
Johan Hulten (IVL)
57 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

Executive summary
1 Introduction and objectives
2 Approach and scope of the report
2.1 Consumer food waste definition
2.2 Target audience of this report
3 Understanding consumer food waste
3.1 Food management practices and competing goals
3.1.1 Food management practices
3.1.2 Competing goals impact food consumption behaviour
3.2 Influencing factors: Motivation, opportunity, and ability
3.2.1 Motivation
3.2.2 Opportunity
3.2.3 Ability
3.3 Influence of socio-demographics
4 Policy options to influence consumer food waste
4.1 Categories of public policy instruments
4.2 Information
4.2.1 Information and awareness raising campaigns
4.2.2 Social norm campaigns
4.2.3 Education/ Skill training
4.2.4 Prompts
4.2.5 Feedback
4.2.6 Commitment
4.2.7 Crosscutting: Apps and ICT tools
4.3 Regulation
4.3.1 Regulation on date marking
4.3.2 Promotions, product presentation and packaging
4.3.3 Influencing consumer behaviour through regulation targeted towards other actors
4.4 Economic Instruments
4.5 Nudges and organization of choice architecture
4.6 Voluntary agreements, strategies and guidelines
4.7 Combination of measures
5 Overview of public campaigns
6 Evaluating impact of interventions
7 Conclusions for improved policy responses
7.1 Improving public campaigns
7.1.1 Understanding national particularities and key leverages
7.1.2 Identify target groups, key messages and information channels
7.1.3 Social norm campaigns
7.1.4 Improving ability
7.1.5 Monitoring and Evaluation
7.2 Integrated policies to reduce consumer food waste
7.2.1 Collaboration with retail and hospitality
7.2.2 System perspective on food behaviour to increase synergies
8 References