Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Tackling Food Waste through a sharing economy approach: an experimental analysis

Morone, Piergiuseppe and Falcone, Pasquale Marcello and Imbert, Enrica and Morone, Marcello and Morone, Andrea (2016): Tackling Food Waste through a sharing economy approach: an experimental analysis.

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Abstract

Food security, along with growing population and the associated environmental concerns, make food waste and loss a central topic in economic analysis. While food losses occur mostly at the production, postharvest and processing phases of the supply chain, food waste takes place mainly at the end of the chain and therefore concerns primarily the habits and behaviour patterns of retailers and consumers. Many solutions and practices have been proposed and oftentimes implemented in order to “keep food out of landfills”, thus reducing food waste at the source. However, little attention has been paid to the possible sharing of consumer-side food surplus. In this context, food sharing could represent an effective way to tackle food waste at the consumers’ level, with both environmental and economic potential positive effects. Currently, several initiatives and start-ups are being developed in the US and Europe, involving the collection and use of the excess of food from consumers and retailers and the promotion of collaborative consumption models (e.g. Foodsharing, Growington, Feastly, etc.). Nevertheless, there is still little empirical evidence testing the effectiveness of introducing sharing economy approaches to reduce food waste. This study seeks to fill this gap through a framed field experiment. We run two experimental treatments; in the control treatment students were asked to behave according to their regular food consumption habits, and in the food sharing treatment the same students were instructed to purchase food, cook and consume it collectively. Preliminary results showed that the adoption by households of food sharing practices do not automatically translate into food waste reduction. A number of factors (environmental and economic awareness, domestic skills and collaborative behaviors) might act as ‘enablers’ to make sharing practices effective.

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