Development and validation of the motivation to avoid food waste scale

January 01, 2023 | Global Environmental Change | Source |

Introduction: A significant portion of food is wasted globally, impacting the environment, economy, and society, such as contributing towards 8–10% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission. Understanding consumer motivations to reduce food waste is crucial. The researchers from Ghent University in Belgium, Virginia Tech in the US, and Wageningen University in the Netherlands collaborate on developing a comprehensive scale measuring various motivations, contributing to both theory and practical strategies for waste reduction efforts. 

Key findings: From literature review, the researchers identify four primary motivations: environmental, moral, financial, and social.

  • Environmental Motivation: Concerns about the environmental impact of food waste are highlighted. While some research suggests environmental concerns as a primary motivation, others find it less prominent.
  • Moral Motivation: Wasting food is viewed as morally wrong due to its implications for those without sufficient access to food. Despite widespread acknowledgment of this moral concern, its influence on actual behavior varies. Individuals may feel guilty about food waste but still engage in wasteful behaviors due to other priorities.
  • Financial Motivation: The cost of wasted food is a significant driver for many individuals. Saving money by avoiding food waste is often a powerful incentive, influencing both attitudes and behaviors.
  • Social Motivation: How individuals are perceived by others, as well as societal norms, can influence food waste behaviors. While there is less research on this dimension, social pressure and impression management likely play a role.

The researchers develops a 21-item scale to measure these motivations, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods across multiple studies. The analytical results indicate that environmental, moral, and financial motivations significantly influence intentions to reduce food waste, with moral and environmental motivations also impacting actual behaviors.