• Daniel Benner
  • Annika Anderson Erjavec
  • Luzie Rück
Food consumption contributes to one-third of total household impacts, therefore this master’s thesis assesses the environmental impacts of various food consumption behaviours within UK households and provides recommendations on how to reduce these impacts. This is done through the development of the ’Environmental Impacts of Food Consumption tool’ (EIFC-tool) which uses outputs from the Household Simulation Model (HHSM) developed by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and researchers from the University of Sheffield. The investigated areas of household food consumption are called ’consumption areas’ and include: product, packaging, food waste, transportation, storage, and preparation. Five food products are modelled in the EIFC-tool, of which four are investigated further in the study: bacon, bread, chicken breast, and milk. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the key method, and the LCA results form background data in the EIFC-tool. LCA is used to find ’impact factors’, which are the environmental impacts per one unit, such as 1 kilogram of bacon or 1 kWh of electricity. The EIFC-tool combines the impact factors with HHSM outputs to assess total environmental impacts of household food consumption of a certain product for one year. This is done for two household sizes: a single household and a four person household. Behaviours changed in the HHSM are purchasing in different package sizes and using the freezer. Changing these behaviours results in different HHSM outputs of amount of product bought, consumed, and wasted. These differences subsequently cause a change in all other consumption areas. Modelling these changes in the EIFC-tool quantifies the differences in environmental impacts given different behaviours. Further analyses in the EIFC-tool investigate how the environmental impacts of individual consumption areas may change with different behaviour such as preparing in bigger servings, buying a different packaging type, using various methods of transportation, or using different types of waste treatment. The results show that freezing food reduces environmental impacts of food waste and other consumption areas such as transportation. Buying in smaller packages reduces the environmental impacts of food waste but increases packaging impacts; and buying in larger packages decreases the impacts of both packaging and transportation. The main recommendation for consumers is to reduce their food waste. This can be done through buying in package sizes appropriate to household demand, and to use the freezer more often. These behavioural changes are more likely to occur through face-to-face interventions and having a change agent within the household.
SpecialisationEnvironmental Management and Sustainability Science
Publication date6 Jun 2019
External collaboratorWaste and Resources Action Programme
Tom Quested tom.quested@wrap.org.uk
ID: 305281403