UBC Undergraduate Research

Cost-benefit analysis of Pre-consumed Food Waste and Development of a Food Waste Baseline : A Food Waste Recovery Initiative Chen, Lu; Go, Kenny; Lee, Darren; Liu, Lu; Stewart, Susan


Pre-consumer food waste (PCFW) is the food waste associated with the preparation of ingredients in dishes and other food products to be sold for consumers. Food waste is a large issue that contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, and its impact can grow exponentially with the expected increase in the human population by 2050. To help reduce PCFW, the implementation of circular economies should be employed. This can help eliminate waste from ending up in landfills. Our project responds to UBC’s Community Action Plan 2030’s (CAP 2030) aim to reduce campus food waste by 50% before 2030. This research is the first step in meeting this goal and will develop a food waste baseline at Open Kitchen (OK), a residence dining hall at the University of British Columbia through a cost-benefit analysis of PCFW based on its monetary and environmental costs. Our analysis will employ various methods including, literature reviews, in-depth interviews with key staff at UBC Food Services, and quantitative analysis of waste data collected both historically at Open Kitchen, and data collected specifically for this project by Food Services (FS) staff. This analysis aims to provide a clear insight into current practices being done to reduce PCFW. Key promising practices identified from the literature include: limiting self-serve stations and container sizes, staff training on food storage and handling, and incorporating more plant-based menus. These promising practices fall in line with the identified gaps noted in the interview which include: waste occurring mostly at side and salad bars and that there is no standard acceptable amount of food waste set. The results from the cost-benefit analysis show that the greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 are higher in comparison to 2020, and economic costs are highest during September and October for both years. Recommendations are made based on immediate, short (6 months) and long (over 1 year) term goals for UBC Food Services. These include amending the existing food waste recording system, setting acceptable monthly food waste goals and the routines to track them, as well as providing the framework for conducting food waste audits at other locations. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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