Reducing food waste by 40%

The Use-It-Up™ Tape: Impact Study

Reducing food waste by 40%

To get the nation onboard with reducing food waste at home, OzHarvest developed a world-first product, the Use-It-Up™ Tape that makes it easy and fun to see what food needs to be used up in your fridge or pantry. Conducting trials to evaluate the impact of the tape, BehaviourWorks Australia found a reduction of 40% of the total amount of household food waste.

Creating the Use-It-Up™ Tape

Armed with these insights from our research to understand ‘Which Behaviours Matter?’, OzHarvest developed the Use-It-Up campaign to drive the following behaviours in Australian households:

  1. Having a use-it-up shelf in the fridge and/or pantry, and
  2. Cooking a weekly use-it-up meal with foods needed to be used up.

Thus, came the development of the Use-It-Up™ Tape

To get the nation on board and inspire behaviour change, OzHarvest worked with creative agency R/GA to design a new product to make it easy for people to waste less at home. The Use-It-Up™ Tape helps you see what food needs using up by marking out a shelf or space in your fridge, freezer or pantry.

What did we do?

We studied the behaviours and activities of several hundred families across Australia who agreed to participate in our trials to use the Use-It-Up™ Tape in their daily lives. The research included:

  1. An online survey providing estimates on household food waste before and (two weeks) after using the Tape, and
  2. A deep dive with 10 households who created a ‘video diary’ of their experience with the Tape over a two-week period.

The online surveys followed a structured food waste estimation process developed and validated by similar studies in Europe and the United States. 361 households completed the pre-survey, while 145 completed the post survey. 75 people completed both surveys.

The video diaries research was funded by the Western Australian Waste Authority as part of their WasteSorted initiative and enabled a rich exploration of the different ways Use-It-Up™ Tape was actually used by households.

What we found

Online survey results

  • There was a 40% reduction in the average total amount of household food waste, as estimated by those completing both surveys
  • The most substantial reduction occurred with fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat with almost 50% less waste
A screenshot showing food categories wasted before and after using the tape from page 5 of the full report.

Video diary results

  • The Tape was used to mark out spaces in their fridge or pantry in which to put any food that need using up
  • It was also used to label specific food items that they wanted to use up
  • The tape is best suited for large households with children and individuals who are disorganised with shopping, cooking, and storing food

The Tape supported behaviour change by:

  • Acting as a visual prompt to remind people about food that needed to be used up
  • Providing a simple and clear labelling device to distinguish between older and newer versions of the same product
  • Encouraging meal planning by identifying the food that needs to be prepared or cooked
  • Creating a communication tool to let other family members know what could be eaten or taken to work and school
I LOVE the tape and the flexibility of it - I have a big family so need a whole shelf when someone else would probably just put on specific items. It made me far more conscious of the food that needed using up and far less inclined to buy more before the fridge had emptied out
Read the full report

What’s happening now?

These outstanding results from the trials show that the adoption of one simple behaviour can have a great impact in reducing food waste. To continue their efforts to encourage Australians to get onboard to fight food waste, OzHarvest continues to run the nation-wide campaign and distribution of Use It Up tape to embed the behaviour with households across the country.

Read about how Melbourne is getting onboard