Identifying and prioritising the most impactful behaviours

Which behaviours matter?

Identifying and prioritising the most impactful behaviours

Building on the video-ethnography research, this project had two goals: (i) To identify the most impactful behaviours to tackle household food waste in Australia , and (ii) To measure the relative likelihood of uptake of these behaviours by Australian consumers. For this work, we used an Impact-Likelihood Matrix approach, pioneered by BehaviourWorks Australia’s own Dr Sarah Kneebone.

What did we do?

We sought to first identify the key behaviours that can reduce the food that Australian households waste . To do this, we:

  • Conducted a review of the evidence across Australian and international literature to see what research has already been done to identify behaviours, and
  • With OzHarvest, held a number of online workshops to gather knowledge from 30 experts on the most impactful household behaviours to reduce food waste.

Based on the research, 36 household behaviours were identified.

Then, to prioritise the most appropriate and impactful behaviours, we:

  • Surveyed national and international food waste experts, asking them to rank behaviours based on their impact in reducing food waste, and
  • Surveyed 1,600 Australian households about their current levels of participation in these behaviours and their perceptions of the effort associated with each of the 36.

Based on these insights, we plotted each of the 36 behaviours on an Impact-Likelihood Matrix, which offer a visual decision-making tool for different behaviours to target based on their impact, likelihood of uptake, and current adoption rates.

A screenshot of the What Behaviours Matter? Impact-Likelihood Matrix from page 16 of the full report.

Interested in learning more about the Impact-Likelihood Matrix? Check out our blog ‘Want to make an impact? We have a ‘likelihood’ tip you can use’:

Read our blog

What we found

The Impact-Likelihood Matrix revealed a number of interesting patterns, including a ‘cluster’ or group of behaviours that were high impact and had a high likelihood of uptake. It also revealed another cluster that had high impact, but low likelihood of uptake.

Thus, we suggested that the first cluster, or our ‘low-hanging fruit’, should be the initial focus of a behaviour change campaign or intervention. On the other hand, the second cluster should be the focus of longer term programs of work.

Mapping current adoption rates over these behaviours helped to prioritise further within each cluster. The final selection of target behaviours for OzHarvest’s campaign was:

  • Once a week, cook a meal that combines any food that needs using up
  • In the fridge or pantry, create a space for any food that needs using up (a ‘use-it-up shelf), and
  • Before preparing a meal, check how many in the household will be there to eat.
Read the full report

We also wrote an on Which Behaviours Matter? in The Conversation and published a paper of our study.

What came next?

In 2022, we conducted trials with hundreds of families across Australia to test the effectiveness of the Use-It-Up™ Tape and found a reduction of 40% of the total amount of household food waste! Read more about our trials and the Impact of the Tape.