Quantifying food plate waste : case study of a university dining facility

Alooh, Allan Ochieng' (2015-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The quest to tackle food insecurity has never been bigger. However, attaining food security is endangered by the megatrends of a burgeoning population, rapid urbanisation and rising affluence. Projections indicate that the global human population will increase to 9.6 billion in 2050. This necessitates increased food production by 70 percent. Equally, increased human dependency on agriculture means that the global agricultural system must operate in a way that promotes social and economic development. Yet, the current agricultural footprint is threatening environmental sustainability and necessitates reduction. Furthermore, recent investments to enhance food production have only made a modest impact on global food security. In this regard, prudent use of already produced food through minimising food wastage is a practical way of improving food security while limiting the threatening socio-economic and ecological consequences of food waste. Food Plate Waste (FPW) generated from dining facilities contributes extensively to consumer food waste and is recognised as the highest component of overall food losses and waste. The lack of fairly accurate data on the quantity and composition of FPW has contributed to inefficient waste minimisation measures. The current study assessed the magnitude, financial cost, causes and level of awareness of FPW in a dining facility at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. During two separate studies, plate waste weight for student diners was measured. A questionnaire was used to establish causes of FPW, students’ satisfaction with meals and menus and awareness of FPW as a problem. Results on quantity and cost of FPW were presented in two levels: only those students with plate waste and the entire dining facility. Forty-one percent of the total student diners left FPW which amounted to 19.66 kg per day. Mean plate waste among students who left plate waste was 40.42 ± 2.05 percent (mean (±standard deviation) per day whereas the overall plate waste for entire dining facility was 6.35 ± 1.25 percent per day. Average plate waste per student stood at 0.105 and 0.04 kg per day among students with plate waste and the entire dining facility, respectively. The cost of FPW during the studies averaged R480.78 and R117 310.32 per day and annum, respectively. The average cost amounted to R2.56 and R1.07 per day for students who left plate waste and the entire dining facility, respectively. Poor food taste was reported as the single largest cause of FPW followed by poor appearance and inappropriate temperature. Eighty-nine percent of students expressed their awareness of FPW as a problem while more than 75 percent believed that FPW is a problem in the halls of residence. Sixty percent of respondents left FPW while 39 percent of the respondents booked meals but never showed up to dine. These results indicate that while the magnitude of plate waste for the entire dining facility may be low, the high level of plate waste among students who had plate waste is undesirable. While students may be aware of the negative consequences of FPW, providing regular information to remind them to act in ways that mirror their awareness is key to curbing FPW. These results provide initial and valuable insights into FPW dynamics and hence offer a starting point for discussion on designing and implementing FPW reduction measures within University dining facilities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die strewe om voedselonsekerheid te bestry was nog nooit so groot nie. Voedselsekerheid word egter bedreig deur oorhoofse tendense van vergrotende bevolkings, snelle verstedeliking en toenemende rykdom. Daar word beraam dat die menslike bevolking wereldwyd in 2050 sal toeneem tot 9.6 biljoen, wat ‘n 70 persent toename in voedselproduksie sal noodsaak. Gelykstaande hieraan sal toenemende menslike afhanklikheid van landbou vereis dat die globale landbousisteem meer insluitende sosiale en ekonomiese ontwikkeling produseer. Die huidige landbou-voetspoor is egter ‘n bedreiging vir omgewingsvolhoubaarheid en moet verminder word. Onlangse beleggings om voedselproduksie te verbeter het verder ook slegs ‘n matige impak op wereldwye voedselsekerheid gehad. In hierdie verband is die verstandige gebruik van voedsel wat reeds geproduseer is deur die vermindering van voedselvermorsing ‘n praktiese wyse om voedselsekerheid te bekom terwyl die dreigende sosio-ekonomiese en ekologiese gevolge van voedselvermorsing beperk word. Voedsel Bord-Vermorsing (Food Plate Waste (FPW)) wat deur universiteit-eetsale gegenereer word dra op groot skaal by tot verbruiker voedselvermorsing en word erken as die hoogste komponent van algehele voedselverlies en -vermorsing. ‘n Gebrek aan akkurate data aangaande die hoeveelheid en samestelling van FPW het bygedra tot ondoeltreffende maatreels vir die vermindering van voedselvermorsing. Hierdie studie het die omvang, finansiele koste, oorsake en vlak van bewustheid van FPW by ‘n universiteit-eetsaal by Stellenbosch Universiteit, Suid-Afrika geassesseer. Deur middel van twee afsonderlike studies is bord-vermorsing massa vir studenteverbruikers gemeet. ‘n Vraelys is benut om die oorsake van FPW, studente se tevredenheid met etes en spyskaarte, sowel as bewustheid van FPW as kwessie te bepaal. Resultate aangaande die hoeveelheid en koste van FPW is aangebied op twee vlakke: slegs studente met bord-vermorsing, en die hele eetsaal. Een-en-veertig persent van al die studenteverbruikers het FPW gelaat wat tot 19.66 kg per dag beloop het. Gemiddelde bord-vermorsing onder studente wat oorblywende voedsel gelaat het, was 40.42 ± 2.05 per dag, terwyl die algehele bord-vermorsing vir die hele eetsaal 6.35 ± 1.25 persent per dag was. Gemiddelde bord-vermorsing staan op onderskeidelik 1.105 en 0.04 kg per dag onder studente wat oorblywende voedsel gelaat het en die hele eetsaal. Die koste van FPW het op gemiddeld R480.78 per dag en R117 310.32 per jaar beloop. Hierdie gemiddelde koste het R2.56 en R1.07 per dag onderskeidelik beloop vir studente wat oorblywende voedsel gelaat het en die hele eetsaal. Slegte smaak is gemeld as die enkele grootste oorsaak van FPW, gevolg deur swak voorkoms en onvanpaste temperatuur. Nege-en-tagtig persent van student het bewustheid van FPW as kwessie getoon, terwyl 75 persent geglo het dat FPW ‘n kwessie in universiteitskoshuise is. Sestig respondente het FPW gelaat, en nege-en-dertig het etes bespreek en nooit opgedaag om dit te verbruik nie. Hierdie resultate dui aan dat alhoewel die omvang van bord-vermorsing vir die hele eetsaal laag was, is die ‘n hoe vlak van bord-vermorsing onder studente wat voedsel oorgelaat het, ongewens. Terwyl studente wel bewus mag wees van die negatiewe gevolge van FPW, is die gereelde voorsiening van inligting wat die studenteverbruikers herinner om te handel op wyses wat hulle bewustheid weerspieel, noodsaaklik om FPW te bekamp. Hierdie resultate verskaf aanvanklike en waardevolle insig tot FPW-dinamika en bied dus ‘n vertrekpunt vir die bespreking van ontwerpe en implementering van FPW-verminderingsmaatreels in universiteiteetsale.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96611
This item appears in the following collections: