Exploring the drivers behind self-reported and measured food wastage

Efrat Elimelech, Eyal Ert, Ofira Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding households' food waste drivers is crucial for forming a coherent policy to meet the sustainable development goals. However, current studies have documented mixed evidence regarding food waste determinants. Most studies have relied on self-reports, assuming they reflect actual behaviors. This study applies a structural equation model that evaluates both selfreported and measured food wastage, and how they are affected by different households' attributes, attitudes, and behaviors. As such, it also provides a test for the underlying logic that self-reports are a proxy for actual food waste. Results show that measured food wastage is, at best, weakly correlated with self-reports. Moreover, drivers affecting self-reported and measured food wastage are not necessarily the same. Household size affects only measured food wastage. Source separation behavior negatively affects self-reported and measured food wastage, while environmental attitudes have a negative effect only on self-reports. Meal planning, unplanned shopping, and food purchased have no impact on self-reported and measured food wastage. The relation between selfreported and actual food waste and their drivers are even less understood than we thought. The distinction between self-reports and actual waste is crucial for follow-up research on this subject as well as assessing policy measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5677
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, grant no. 20-14-0030. The funding source had no involvement in any of the research stages nor in the decision to submit this article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.


  • Avoidable food waste
  • Drivers of food waste
  • Household food waste
  • Measured food wastage
  • Self-reports
  • Structural equation model
  • Sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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