People waste much more than they estimate

12. 8. 2020
The average inhabitant of Brno throws 37.4 kilograms of food into the trash a year. People in housing estates waste the most food, namely 53.6 kilos per person per year. In rural areas (29.1 kg/person/year) and residential areas (32.7 kg/person/year), waste is less, which is related, among other things, to the fact that in these localities there is a better possibility of composting or feeding animals. This follows from year-round data collected in cooperation with SAKO Brno and Green Solution by scientists from Mendel University in Brno.

The data are unique because a similarly extensive survey has no analogues in the Czech Republic or abroad. The main goal of the project is to find ways to influence consumers to reduce the amount of wasted food in the future. The statistics found will probably surprise many, because the people of Brno themselves have so far estimated in the questionnaires that they throw away only 4 kilograms of food a year.

Experts from Mendel University in Brno have been measuring the actual amount of food thrown into municipal waste in selected city districts in Brno since last spring. In each season, they analyzed municipal waste from ordinary “black” bins from a total of 900 households in Brno – 300 households from housing estates, 300 from residential areas, and 300 rural households were evenly represented.

“Now we are finally able to describe the behavior of the Brno household regardless of seasonal and other fluctuations. 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 in great detail, sorted and weighed – the focus was of course on food,” said project leader Lea Kubíčková from the Faculty of Business and Economics at MENDELU.

People most often throw in fruit and vegetables, pastries and their leftovers, packaged food, including packaging of both plant and animal origin. In summer and autumn, people waste more food than in spring and winter. The composition of food in garbage cans changes slightly in individual seasons, but fruits, vegetables, pastries, and their remnants are most often thrown away by people in every season. For example, in the summer, packaged foods predominate over unwrapped foods. Statistics are also important on what percentage of discarded waste could be composted. According to experts, biological waste accounts for 48.81 percent a year.

Within the EU, there is no accurate data on the amount of food wasted in households, and figures are not available worldwide. Published information is often only an estimate that is not based on an actual measurement of household waste. That is why the experts from FBE MENDELU started their research several years ago.

However, the project, for which the research team obtains money from the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, does not only aim to find out how much food is wasted in households. After finding these data, the researchers will experiment with selected localities and will try to change the behavior of households and make residents waste less using various intervention modes.

The effects of this experiment will be measured and compared with data already obtained to demonstrate whether there are any ways in which the population’s food waste behavior can be changed and how significantly these interventions can have a difference in human behavior. “The project is unique in this respect, as a similar experiment has not yet been carried out to such an extent not only in the Czech Republic but probably not elsewhere in the world,” Kubíčková added.

Contact for more information: doc. Ing. Lea Kubíčková, Ph.D., tel .: 739 348 950, Head of the Department of Marketing and Trade, FBE

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