The government’s Behavioural Insights Team recently met up with GreeNudge, a Norwegian organisation that researches behavioural approaches to encouraging environmentally friendly choices, where its latest study on food waste was discussed.
GreeNudge conducted randomised controlled trials in hotel restaurants with food buffets.
GreeNudge – “The results are statistically significant. They are also environmentally substantial as food waste is a major contributor to climate change and other forms of environmental degradation.”
They found that reducing plate size and communicating that it’s okay to come back for another serving resulted in a decrease in food waste whilst hotel guest satisfaction remained the same.
The trial tested two interventions and found impressive results:
- reducing the plate size reduced food waste by 19.5 percent
- introducing a sign pointing out that guests can help themselves more than once reduced food waste by 20.5 percent.
The GreeNudge report stated: “We show that two simple and nonintrusive ‘nudges’–reducing plate size and providing social cues–reduce the amount of food waste in hotel restaurants by around 20 percent.
“The results are statistically significant. They are also environmentally substantial as food waste is a major contributor to climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. Given the magnitude of the contribution of food waste to global environmental change, it is surprising that this issue has not received greater attention. The measures reduce the amount of food the restaurants need to purchase, and there is no change in guest satisfaction, making it likely that profits will increase. The measures thus constitute potential win–win opportunities.”
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude today announced that the “nudge unit” will become a profit-making business, according to the London Evening Standard.