Mendel University Researchers In Brno Collect Unique Data On Food Waste

At Mendel University, unique research has been carried out into the food waste habits of Brno residents and how to influence them. For three years, a team of multidisciplinary researchers analysed the waste from 900 households in Brno, and at the same time carried out various awareness campaigns on the subject. They were thus able to observe the direct effect of different types of communication and collected unique data that is a world first. Photo Credit: Mendel University

Brno, May 1 (BD) – The project provided concrete data on the amount of food thrown away in the households studied. In the first year, it was found that an average resident of Brno throws away 37.4 kilograms of food per year. The goal was not only to map household habits, but also to find out whether and how they can be influenced.

Many different types of awareness campaigns were carried out: leaflets, posts on social networks, stickers on bins, information brochures, as well as more demanding campaigns such as workshops in schools, discussions, focus groups, and educational video campaigns. The research team measured and compared the actual impact of each campaign directly on the amount of food thrown away.

Encouraging results

“Summarizing the whole three years of the project, it is clear that with the right action, it is possible to influence the behaviour of households to try to behave rationally, and then transform them to waste the as little food as possible,” said Lea Kubíčková, the project manager of the study. The researchers were also surprised to find that the most effective measures were the least expensive, including educational messages on social media, stickers on bins, and information leaflets and brochures. However, their effect waned over time, whereas more expensive campaigns such as school workshops, talks and educational video campaigns had a less immediate but more lasting effect on the habits of Brno residents.

The project, which was funded by the Czech Technology Agency (TAČR), also yielded interesting information from an extensive questionnaire survey. This provided additional information on the motivations of households and their awareness of waste. For example, many said they were much more aware of their own food waste in a situation where they spend more money on it.

The work of the waste researchers does not stop here. In cooperation with Charles University, the results of the project will be used to create interactive educational material on food waste for primary schools. The Mendel researchers are also working on improving food waste containers, in order to reduce drawbacks such as bad odours. 

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