Journal article

Waste not, want not: a bio-economic impact assessment of household food waste reductions in the EU

Food packaging Waste management Household finance Waste minimization European Union


  • Assessment of food waste reduction impact needs to include economic and biophysical indicators.
  • Economy-wide models as proposed in this paper can account for all market and non-market impacts of reducing food waste.
  • Reducing households' food waste increases savings; it decreases agri-food production and to a minor extent GDP.
  • Environmental indicators are improving as EU land use, water abstraction and greenhouse gas emissions decline.


Halving per capita food waste and reducing food losses along production and supply chains is one of the objectives fixed by the United Nations among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This study employs a system-wide modelling approach, to simulate economic impacts of households' food waste reduction in 2030, focusing on the European Union. The paper provides market, food security, biophysical and environmental indicators resulting from food commodity specific waste reductions by EU households. The scenarios explicitly account for associated costs paid by food manufacturers derived from adjustments in the packaging, labelling and logistics. The model shows, under a series of market assumptions, a possible increase in household savings, a fall in agri-food production and a minor negative macroeconomic impact due to household food waste reductions. On the other hand, the effects on environmental indicators such as land usage, GHG emissions and water abstraction are positive. Future research on several aspects of the food waste topic is needed to better integrate all economic aspects.

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