Mihaela Bishop


Food waste is generated in large amounts across the food chain, ensuing serious environmental, social and economic consequences. Although consumers are the single most significant contributors, little is known about the drivers of food waste in households. The study explores individual attitudes towards food waste, identifies associations between psychological factors and behaviour and establishes consumers’ current understanding of food waste. This study employs mixed methods, starting with a qualitative stage using focus group discussions (7 focus groups, n=48) and following it up with a quantitative survey (411 questionnaires). The thematic analysis findings suggest that attitudes, social norms, perceived behaviour control and intentions have, to a greater or lesser extent, relevance to a more in-depth understanding of behaviour in this context together with the moral and environmental implications of domestic food waste. Structural equation modelling shows that most of the factors investigated are important antecedence of individual intention not to waste food in the particular, Attitude (on its Waste Aversion dimension) and Self-efficacy were significant and negative predictors of Intentions, while Pro-environmental Identity (on its Self-identity dimension) and Moral Identity had a significant and positive impact on Intention. The Intention was also found to be a significant and negative predictor of Behaviour. Further, interesting results were revealed when looking in more depth at the Low and High FPM (Food Planning Management) groups of participants. Differences were noted between the two groups in terms of Social Norms (on its Pressure dimension), which had negative significant effects on Intention for the Low FPM group, but was not significant in the High FPM group. In addition, PBC (on its Control dimension) and Pro-environmental Identity (on its NEP dimension) had significant positive effects on Intention only in the High FPM group, whilst not significant relationships were shown in the Low FPM group. Additionally, PBC (on its Capability dimension), showed significant positive effects on Behaviour in the High FPM group only. This study contributes to theory as it responds to the call for in-depth investigations into the issue of household food waste behaviours and motivations. The findings reveal that the extended Theory of Planned Behaviour can effectively be applied to intentions and behaviours related to household food waste in the UK. This study helps practitioners and policymakers develop a more in-depth understanding and an increased awareness of the implications of food waste, with the clear aim of reducing wasteful behaviour in the home. Further, the results of this study suggest that the prevention of food waste should take priority when devising any initiatives at the consumer level.

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