How to reduce consumer food waste at household level: A literature review on drivers and levers for behavioural change

Matteo Vittuari, Laura Garcia Herrero, Matteo Masotti, Elisa Iori, Carla Caldeira, Zhuang Qian, Hendrik Bruns, Erica van Herpen, Gudrun Obersteiner, Gulbanu Kaptan, Gang Liu, Bent Egberg Mikkelsen, Richard Swannell, Gyula Kasza, Hannah Nohlen, Serenella Sala*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Consumer food waste at the household level results from a complex set of different behaviours. They are influenced by psychological, socio-cultural, and economic factors such as awareness, attitudes, cognitions, emotions, and context-related factors such as available technologies, defined as drivers. Furthermore, opportunities to reduce food waste systematically and practically, or levers, are distinct from drivers but have rarely been documented in previous studies. Identification of drivers and levers helps to design accurate interventions to tackle consumer food waste. To provide a systematic overview of these food waste drivers and levers, this study builds upon i) a systematic literature review conducted on scientific and grey literature published between 2010 and 2021, ii) a revised version of the Motivation Opportunity Ability (MOA) framework distinguishing micro, meso and macro situation factors, and iii) an iterative feedback mechanism with experts of the European Consumer Food Waste Forum established by the European Commission in 2021. Drivers and levers of consumer food waste are identified, categorised, analysed, and discussed in line with the revised MOA framework. Thirteen drivers and their connected levers were identified in the literature in response to the MOA framework, while others fell under individual characteristics such as demographics. Taking different consumer segments into account when investigating drivers and levers has been identified as a powerful instrument that could help design more impactful interventions. Similarly, targeting particular segments of consumers with interventions may also maximise the food waste prevention effect (e.g., those consumers wasting the most or those most likely to change their behaviour). Hence, the reviewed studies provide several indications of potential consumer food waste reduction interventions with their limitations and advantages under specific environmental settings. This review leads to a research agenda to understand household food waste better and develop more evidence-based interventions and standardized methods to measure their impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Consumer behaviour
  • Consumption patterns
  • Food systems sustainability
  • Food waste prevention
  • Food waste reduction


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