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Silva Neira, Maria Jesus, 2024. Food waste in Swedish households : trends, challenges, and opportunities towards achieving the global reduction target. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Energy and Technology



Food systems are facing urgent environmental and social challenges in order to ensure a more sustainable future at a global scale. Considering that approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption is loss or wasted, reducing food waste is key issue to reduce the environmental impacts of food systems. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) include a specific target which aims to halve Food Loss and Waste (FLW) by 2030. Whether we are on the right path to achieving the SDGs is a question that has gained attention in the last years. This study focused on Swedish household food waste and aimed to examine potential trends in relation to the food waste reduction target of the SDGs, together with exploring challenges and opportunities for local governments to help accomplishing it. This study revealed a slight overall decrease of 4% in total food waste generation among Swedish households from 2018 to 2022, but this reduction is not on track to meet the 50% reduction target by 2030. The amount of avoidable sorted-food waste, which represents edible food, has increased by 17% during the same period. However, this figure includes only the sorted fraction, leaving the trend in the amount of avoidable non-sorted food waste unknown. Interestingly, the overall amount of sorted food waste has increased from 42% to 72%, which is in line with both EU regulations and municipal ambitions.
Challenges to reduce household food waste both within the municipalities and beyond the municipalities scope were identified through semi-structured interviews with municipal representatives. The unclear municipality role in ensuring systematic and concrete actions to reduce food waste in households, limited resources, and other priorities were identified as challenges within the municipality, whereas the underestimation of the own food waste generation of individuals and systemic enablers of food waste, such as low food prices and hectic lifestyles were some challenges beyond the municipality boundaries. Overall, helping households to reduce food waste was perceived as a hard task and the results reveals the multiple layers of this complex issue.
Collaborating with relevant stakeholders and clarifying the municipal role through top-down approaches are crucial opportunities to ensure more systematic and effective efforts towards reducing household food waste and achieving SDG Target 12.3. Future research exploring the effectiveness of potential interventions and providing local governments with actionable insights is urgently needed, to contribute developing more sustainable food systems.

Main title:Food waste in Swedish households
Subtitle:trends, challenges, and opportunities towards achieving the global reduction target
Authors:Silva Neira, Maria Jesus
Supervisor:Sjölund, Amanda and Malefors, Christopher
Examiner:Eriksson, Mattias
Series:Examensarbete / Institutionen för energi och teknik, SLU
Volume/Sequential designation:2024:15
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM011 Sustainable Development - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Energy and Technology
Keywords:household food waste, Sustainable Development Goals, food waste reduction, sustainable food systems
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Deposited On:02 Jul 2024 11:20
Metadata Last Modified:05 Jul 2024 01:32

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