Research From Mendel University Indicates Successful Interventions To Reduce Food Waste In Brno Households

Researchers from MENDELU have tried various interventions to change household behavior related to waste. According to the available data, they have succeeded, as the average amount of food thrown away by residents of Brno housing estates dropped by 26.5% in 2020, compared to the previous year. Photo Credit: MENDELU.

Brno, Aug 26 (BD) – The residents of Brno housing estates threw almost 27% less food waste into rubbish bins in 2020, compared to the previous year. Experts from Mendel University (MENDELU) measured the amount of food thrown into municipal waste in selected city districts of Brno. In each season, they analyzed the contents of the black municipal general waste bins from 900 Brno households, of which 300 from housing estates, 300 villas, and 300 rural homes, to measure the amount of food being wasted. 

Researchers from MENDELU have tried various interventions to change household behavior related to waste. According to the available data, they have succeeded. “The project is unique in this respect, as an experiment of this extent has not yet been carried out in the Czech Republic, and probably not elsewhere in the world,” said project leader Lea Kubíčková, from the Faculty of Business and Economics at MENDELU.

According to current data, the average Brno resident throws away almost 35.0 kilograms of food every year. The most food is still wasted from housing estates, where the average is 39.4 kg/person/year, but the effect of the interventions appears to be the highest here, with a dramatic decrease of 26.5% from 53.6 kg/person/year in 2019.

In the countryside and residential areas, the amount of waste is almost unchanged compared to last year. “Overall, the volume of wasted food in municipal waste is smaller in these buildings, which is related, among other things, to the fact that there is a better possibility of composting in these localities, or food residues can be fed to animals,” said Kubíčková, whose team is cooperating with SAKO Brno and Green Solution.

“Now we are finally able to assess the behavior of Brno households regardless of seasonal and other fluctuations,” said Kubíčková. “We have very interesting data on the content of “black bins” – we know what percentage of the waste is combustible and non-combustible, what is in paper and plastic or textile bins, but the main attention is paid to data on biological waste, which was analyzed, sorted, and weighed in great detail. Of course, the focus was on food.” People most often throw away fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and packaged foods, including packaging of both plant and animal origin.

Significantly less food was wasted in autumn than in other seasons, while the most was wasted in summer. The composition of garbage cans changes slightly between seasons, but fruits, vegetables, and baked goods are the most often thrown away in every season. In the summer, a larger amount of packaged food is thrown away, as well as meat, eggs, and dairy products. 

Researchers from the faculty are now evaluating the effectiveness of individual campaigns affecting households. Their goal is to find out what has led consumers to change their behavior and also whether the positive reduction in waste was significantly affected by the pandemic. They are comparing data on food waste from urban districts included in the more expensive forms of intervention with those households affected by cheaper incentives, as well as control groups of households that have not been exposed to any interventions. This will make it possible to clarify the results with the effects of external circumstances, such as changing family food habits during the pandemic.

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