Skip to main content

About this book

This book focuses on the crucial sustainability challenge of reducing food waste at the level of consumer-society. Providing an in-depth, research-based overview of the multifaceted problem, it considers environmental, economic, social and ethical factors. Perspectives included in the book address households, consumers, and organizations, and their role in reducing food waste. Rather than focusing upon the reasons for food waste itself, the chapters develop research-based solutions for the problem, providing a much-needed solution-orientated approach that takes multiple perspectives into account.

Chapters 1, 2, 12 and 16 of this book are available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license at

Table of Contents


Open Access

Chapter 1. Introduction: A Framework for Managing Food Waste

Närvänen, Mesiranta, Mattila and Heikkinen present a much-needed framework for managing food waste, including food surplus, food loss and food waste. The framework discusses the characteristics of food waste as unstructured, cross-cutting and relentless, that is, as a wicked problem. The chapter provides a concise review of recent food waste studies, particularly from the perspective of finding solutions. Närvänen et al. introduce four perspectives into this solution orientation—changing the behaviour of actors, connecting actors and activities within systems, constituting sociocultural meanings and innovating solutions to food waste reduction. These four perspectives also form the structure for the rest of the book, which provides research-based multidisciplinary insights and solutions in the quest to battle against the wicked problem of food waste.
Elina Närvänen, Nina Mesiranta, Malla Mattila, Anna Heikkinen

Changing the Behaviour of Actors at Distribution and Consumption Levels


Open Access

Chapter 2. Household Food Waste—How to Avoid It? An Integrative Review

Behavioural change interventions directed at consumers have a great potential to reduce overall food waste levels. Van Geffen, van Herpen and van Trijp provide an overview of the literature on drivers of in-home food waste and translate them into guidelines for effective intervention development. They make a clear distinction between interventions that encourage goal setting to reduce food waste and interventions that encourage goal striving, to allow for the best intervention selection. They argue that consumers are best served by interventions that enable alignment between multiple food-related goals with food waste prevention, as this normative goal is difficult to act upon when hedonic and gain goals are also activated.
Lisanne van Geffen, Erica van Herpen, Hans van Trijp

Chapter 3. Nudging in Food Waste Management: Where Sustainability Meets Cost-Effectiveness

Food waste in the hospitality industry is a major problem, and solutions to change wasteful behaviours in professional kitchens are scarce. De Visser-Amundson and Kleijnen contribute to this knowledge gap by exploring how nudging can be used to stimulate employees to save more food without impacting the customer experience. In a field setting with a perspective of cost-effective service excellence (CESE), they specifically show that cost-saving behaviours realised by either a social norms nudge or a pre-commitment nudge are promising paths to explore as solutions to reduce food waste in professional kitchens and to achieve CESE. To that effect, the social norms and the pre-commitment nudge reduced daily food waste with 25.02% and with 33.50%, respectively.
Anna de Visser-Amundson, Mirella Kleijnen

Chapter 4. Managerial Practices of Reducing Food Waste in Supermarkets

Reducing food waste is typically part of a supermarket’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy and includes actions and policies that should satisfy the expectations of diverse stakeholders. Managers are responsible for implementing CSR strategies. However, how and why do supermarket managers engage in supermarket food waste reduction practices has been largely ignored by existing research. Moser draws on qualitative data collected among Dutch supermarket managers and provides implications for theory and practice. First, she shows how managers carry out micro-CSR practices and highlights the important role of knowledge sharing. In practical terms, it is important to share best practices, to share knowledge, to collaborate with external partners, and to engage with governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Christine Moser

Connecting Actors and Activities Within Systems


Chapter 5. The Evolution of the German Anti-food Waste Movement: Turning Sustainable Ideas into Business

Based on a longitudinal approach, Gollnhofer and Boller trace the German anti-food waste movement. They followed the anti-food waste movement from 2012 to 2016 as it grew from a group of dumpster divers into a collective based on food sharing and resulted in a movement that motivated retailers to change some of their business routines (i.e. selling blemished fruits and vegetables). They contribute to prior literature by showing how the idea of selling ugly fruit and vegetables gained ground in the German market based on three underlying theoretical processes, namely (1) raising awareness, (2) recalibrating practices, and (3) monetising practices.
Johanna F. Gollnhofer, Daniel Boller

Chapter 6. Distributed Agency in Food Waste—A Focus on Non-human Actors in Retail Setting

Alhonnoro, Leipämaa-Leskinen, and Syrjälä analyse distributed agency in food waste, focusing on how non-human actors participate in production and/or reduction of food waste in retailing. Adopting the Actor-Network Theory, they follow how bread may—or may not—turn to waste. They zoom in on the interactions of three particular sets of non-human actors—bread and its package, natural-temporal actors, and techno-material actors—with other human and non-human actors in the food waste network. The chapter outlines practical implications and suggestions for food waste reduction by showing how food waste in retailing is not merely a human-led process that can be solved at the aggregate level, but a dispersed and complex issue needing analysis of the operational reality in the store environment.
Lotta Alhonnoro, Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen, Henna Syrjälä

Chapter 7. Between Kitchen Sink and City Sewer: A Socio-Ecological Approach to Food Waste in Environmental Design

Burke and Napawan discuss how the places of food waste are only marginally, if at all, considered a design project. By participating in the diminishment of the physical spaces of food waste, designers and planners passively support cultural attitudes that counteract sustainability and fail to adequately evaluate human impact on the environment. Burke and Napawan construct an argument for a more sustainable and integrated approach to food waste in environmental design by synthesising three disparate areas of theory (urban metabolism, socio-ecological resilience, feminism) and document an example of applying the approach in practice. By doing this, they argue that environmental designers need to develop a socio-ecological approach to create solutions to food waste.
Ellen Burke, N. Claire Napawan

Chapter 8. Creating Resilient Interventions to Food Waste: Aligning and Leveraging Systems and Design Thinking

Food waste interventions often end up shifting waste instead of reducing it. Lake, McFarland, and Vogelzang suggest efforts to ameliorate the food waste crisis could be better served through integrating theories and tools from systems thinking and design thinking. They analyse several systemic influences on food change and then recommend ten practical strategies for fostering and supporting change agents. Lake et al. suggest these ten intervention strategies will help change agents uncover and leverage the otherwise hidden interconnections between social, economic, and political systems. These strategies may open opportunities to address the underlying factors contributing to food waste and yield more inclusive, effective, and sustainable change.
Danielle Lake, Amy McFarland, Jody Vogelzang

Constituting Sociocultural Meanings


Chapter 9. Assumptions About Consumers in Food Waste Campaigns: A Visual Analysis

Sutinen reveals six assumptions about consumers carried by food waste campaigns. The chapter views food waste campaign material as social marketing communication and builds upon different approaches to consumer behaviour change. The chapter focuses on visual food waste campaign material published in Finland and in Sweden. Three of the identified assumptions—economical, environmental and ethical consumer—are related to the assumed orientation of consumers in terms of food waste. The other three assumptions—childlike, uninformed and active consumer—illustrate the assumed level of agency. Sutinen argues that in order to plan and create effective food waste campaigns the underlying assumptions of consumer need to be critically evaluated.
Ulla-Maija Sutinen

Chapter 10. From Scarcity to Abundance: Food Waste Themes and Virtues in Agrarian and Mature Consumer Society

Uusitalo and Takala address the food waste problem as a societal phenomenon and examine ethical virtues, values linked to them and food practices in two different time periods: agrarian society (1885–1917) and mature consumer society (2008–2017), in Finland. They use data from newspapers to uncover how ethical principles can underpin understanding of the food waste phenomenon. The study shows how the virtues adopted by food chain actors guide their practices towards sustainable ways of handling excess food. While societal themes of food waste are changing, virtues and food practices are changing as well, but some deep-rooted societal virtues and values persist. The chapter concludes with recommendations of how to act out virtues in everyday food practices to control and reduce food waste.
Outi Uusitalo, Tuomo Takala

Chapter 11. Mobilising Consumers for Food Waste Reduction in Finnish Media Discourse

Raippalinna explores how consumers are mobilised for food waste reduction in media discourse. Food waste reduction initiatives are often criticised for putting the responsibility on individual consumers, but little research exists on the mobilisation of consumers in actual contexts. Through critical discourse analysis of media texts, Raippalinna investigates how the food waste problem and consumers are constructed in relation to each other in Finlands leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat 2010–2017. The analysis demonstrates that the discourses of consumer mobilisation appear mostly as consumer education where the consumer’s role is to manage individual consumption and household practices. The theoretical framework combines governmentality studies with a practice theoretical approach on consumption. Raippalinna discusses if and how media discourse can contribute to a transformation of food (waste) related practices.
Liia-Maria Raippalinna

Innovating Practical Solutions


Open Access

Chapter 12. Insect-Based Bioconversion: Value from Food Waste

Fowles and Nansen’s chapter discusses insect-based bioconversion. When insects are mass produced under controlled conditions, they can break down significant quantities of food waste. Further, as the insects consume this waste, they produce multiple valuable commodities, such as insect biomass (proteins, lipids), pharmaceuticals, biofuels, lubricants, and fertilizer from their excrement. This process is called bioconversion and will be a serious contender among food waste treatment options in the coming decades. Insect bioconversion is gaining traction both as a research topic and as a business opportunity. Fowles and Nansen discuss both the need to increase capacity and to maximize the potential benefits of using insects as bioconverters of food waste. They provide both theoretical and practical solutions for expanding insect-based bioconversion to food waste streams.
Trevor M. Fowles, Christian Nansen

Chapter 13. Gleaning: Turning Food Waste at Farms into Marketable Products

Kowalczyk, Taillon and Hearn examine gleaning as a business solution for food waste in the farming industry. They identify economic, environmental, legal/regulatory and social impacts of gleaning by utilising interview and online survey data from industry experts. Further, they examine gleaning as a business process to reduce food waste, using Glean LLC as an illustrative case example. In 2017, Glean LLC was found by social entrepreneurs in North Carolina, USA, to produce healthy and fresh foods made from fruits and vegetables for consumers. The company uses gleaning to not only generate revenue through innovative products but also to positively impact society by minimising the harmful effects of food waste and maximising the benefits of gleaning as a business.
Christine M. Kowalczyk, Brian J. Taillon, Laura Hearn

Chapter 14. Exploring Food Waste Reducing Apps—A Business Model Lens

Among the most promising opportunities to tackle food waste are the food waste reducing apps. Contrary to what some entrepreneurs and policy makers may initially believe, the challenges are not limited to the technology, so their attention should be extended to a business perspective. Focussing on non-technological aspects, de Almeida Oroski explores nine cases of food waste reducing apps under the business model lens. This exploration reveals four business model types, indicating variations in their value proposition, value creation and value capture dimensions. These decisions can create dilemmas that the entrepreneurs must face. The dilemmas include decisions on whether to be just an app provider or to advance solutions for food waste prevention and reduction and whether to adopt a profit or a non-profit model.
Fabio de Almeida Oroski

Chapter 15. ECOWASTE4FOOD Project: Cases for Food Waste Reduction at City and Regional Levels in the EU

Féret offers a practice-driven approach to local solutions and regional strategies that contribute to halve food waste by 2030. Building on the EU-funded ECOWASTE4FOOD project, the chapter focuses on the multi-actor arrangements that enable eco-innovation and social innovation to grow in various EU countries. In addition to looking at the European Union policies to address food waste, Féret draws attention to some sectoral/horizontal dimensions and strategies wherein food waste can be addressed in the food system. This chapter concludes with a discussion on the role that city and regional authorities can play so to prevent food waste through interactive learning and multi-actor action plans.
Samuel Féret

Open Access

Chapter 16. From Measurement to Management: Food Waste in the Finnish Food Chain

Hartikainen, Riipi, Katajajuuri and Silvennoinen present a quality standard for food waste quantification in Finland where the previous food waste studies provide knowledge of the most suitable quantification methods. The standard describes the best methods for each part of the food chain. For instance, questionnaires are appropriate to collect waste data from primary production and manufacturing, whereas concentrated data collection is suitable for retail. To make data collection consistent, it is also important to collaborate and discuss common definitions between the actors of the food chain. Additionally, the aim is to establish a food waste road map where the Finnish food chain actors set targets and agree on the best practices to reduce food waste.
Hanna Hartikainen, Inkeri Riipi, Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Kirsi Silvennoinen


Additional information

Premium Partner

    Image Credits