Document Type



Publication Date



food waste, waste management, waste prevention, sustainability, behavior, policy


There has been growing interest in establishing food waste prevention and recovery programs throughout the world. The drive to target food waste stems from increasing concerns about resource conservation, food security, food waste’s environmental and economic costs, and a general trend in the waste management industry to transition to more sustainable practices. Here the drivers of residential, institutional, and commercial food waste generation in developed countries, particularly in the U.S., are explored. The impacts of food system modernization on food waste generation are examined, particularly impacts related to food system industrialization, urbanization, globalization, and economic growth. Socio-demographic, cultural, political, and economic drivers of food wastage are described with emphasis on how food waste perspectives may vary globally. Specific behaviors and attitudes which result from many of these waste drivers are then discussed. The examination of the range of food wastage drivers are used to provide insight into the best policy approaches to sustainably manage food waste. Food waste prevention policies are placed in context of the waste generating behaviors and attitudes that they address. A review of important background information on food waste is also provided, including definitions of key terms, food waste history, quantities of food waste generated, and the importance of food waste prevention for sustainability, as this information is all critical for effective policy development.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.