Reducing Food Waste in Households

The Story Behind the Use It Up™ Tape

One of Australia’s leading food rescue organisations, OzHarvest, teamed up with BehaviourWorks Australia's Dr Mark Boulet to conduct research and develop a behaviour change program to fight household food waste, which led to the development of the innovative ‘Use-It-Up™ tape’.

This microsite showcases the numerous programs of research conducted by BehaviourWorks Australia's Dr Mark Boulet for OzHarvest between 2018-2023.

Background

Although food is wasted across the whole supply chain, over a third comes directly from our homes. In Australia, that’s 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted each year. This not only wastes the considerable water and energy used to make the food, but the methane emitted from rotting uneaten food  is a significant contributor to climate change.

Driven by the national goal of halving food waste by 2030 and the challenge of inspiring citizen action, OzHarvest engaged  BehaviourWorks Australia in 2018 to better understand how they could use behavioural science to reduce food waste at home.

The collaborative mission explored how food waste was generated in homes, identified and prioritised various food waste reduction behaviours and tested methods to reduce food waste at home. This culminated in a published report ‘Tackling Household food waste: Which behaviours matter most?'

The research insights inspired the creation of a new product innovation to create long-term behavioural change - OzHarvest’s Use-It-Up™ Tape. The tape is used to mark a shelf in your fridge or pantry, or on food items/containers that need using up. OzHarvest launched it as part of their first nation-wide campaign to tackle household food waste and have since distributed over 50,000 tapes.

Why a Tape?

The Use-It-Up™ tape was developed using consumer insights from extensive research into understanding what behaviours matter to reduce food waste at home, and which behaviour would have the easiest uptake and the biggest impact. Thanks to pro bono support from creative agency R/GA the need for a tangible product was identified and the concept of Use-It-Up™ Tape was created to make it easy for people to waste less at home. It works as a visual reminder to prompt daily action for householders to use food that needs eating up and helps  organise full and busy fridges. When trialled with Australian households, this simple intervention helped to reduce food waste by 40% and halving waste of fresh produce like fruit, vegetables, and meat. 

Dive into our research

Years of extensive research went into understanding how to reduce food waste at home. After the development of the Use-It-Up™ Tape and the national campaign, we are continuing our research journey with OzHarvest to maximise the efficiency of food rescue at supermarkets and also evaluating how their curriculum-aligned education program FEAST can support further reduction of food waste in homes. More on these projects to come.

Explore our pages below for a deep dive into our three main programs of work:

Got questions about our work to reduce household food waste?

Get in touch with our lead researcher, Dr Mark Boulet, by filling out our enquiry form.

Help us improve this initiative

Has the BWA Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration made a difference for you?

Please feel free to visit the program web page if you want to refresh your understanding of the program or access key reports (see below) before proceeding.

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