‘Win. Don’t Bin’: WRAP explains Food Waste Action Week 2023

Food Waste Action Week is being launched by WRAP’s citizen-facing brand, Love Food Hate Wate (LFHW), next week. It will run from 6 to 12 March focusing on the theme ‘Win. Don’t Bin’.

FWAW WRAP 2023 PosterResource sat down with Helen White, WRAP’s Special Adviser for Household Food Waste, to understand the campaign and the behavioural patterns that informed it.

Q - Tell us a little bit about the campaign mechanic. How was it conceived?

As you might expect from WRAP, evidence and insights have gone into informing this year’s Food Waste Action Week, which is the third such ‘hero’ week of its kind focused on food waste.

This year, reflecting the current context of the cost-of-living crisis in the UK, Food Waste Action Week will employ a different way of encouraging householders to reduce food waste at home, namely the money and time-saving benefits, rather than making the connection between wasting food and climate change.

Q - Is this the main message the campaign is trying to get across?

Yes. It’s not about how much people can save – for example, the average family could save £60 a month and £730 a year – the proposition is ‘Win. Don’t Bin’ and the tone is positive. We’re encouraging people to use up and make the most of food already bought and cooked. We position this approach as ‘winning’.

Q - Tell us about the research and behavioural science that underpin the campaign.

WRAP estimates 1.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten goes to waste in UK homes because too much is prepared, cooked or served. This costs UK householders £3.5 billion a year. Whilst ‘not used in time’ is the main reason for food being thrown away (1.9 million tonnes), the behavioural strategies that need to be employed to affect this could be thought of as more complex. Habits and perceptions are hard to shift, and the environment does not always support change.

Using up leftovers is a great ‘get out of jail’ behaviour, in the space where an individual citizen has more control. If citizens have the knowledge and skills to use up the food they buy, these can be used to tackle ‘mistakes’ from earlier in the citizen shopper journey like buying too much or giving in to temptation and offers.

Also, our June 2022 Food Waste Trends Survey indicated that using up leftovers is a popular in-home behavioural response to the cost-of-living crisis with 23 per cent of respondents saying they had started or done more of it. If citizens are finding it useful to help them in the current situation, it is worth piggybacking on their propensity to act by providing them with the practical advice Love Food Hate Waste is well known for.

Q - Did the behaviour change interventions team have a big role to play in the development of this campaign?

Yes. Our behaviour change interventions team analysed the behaviours around ‘preparing, cooking and serving’ too much using COM-B: ‘The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions’ (Michie et. al., 2014).

There are essentially two ways of tackling the problem: citizens either need to make the right amount of food in the first place or use up what’s left. We identified, collated, and extracted key insights from 12 WRAP reports and other research to identify the key behavioural barriers and drivers of these challenges.

Q - What emerged as some of the key insights?

Looking at the citizen ‘macro’ journey: on-plate leftovers are more likely to be discarded than other leftovers. By encouraging people to only serve the quantity of food they will eat (the ‘right portion’), the assumption is that plate waste will be reduced. With storage, this needs to be carried out in a way that enables and encourages the use of the leftovers later.

Q - Can you go into detail on the approaches for storage?

We designed this year’s Food Waste Action Week to overcome the barriers to the ‘storage’ part of the journey, namely:

  • Citizens can lack knowledge as to what foods can be stored, and how to store them (especially safely).
  • Citizens can forget to store and use leftovers within an appropriate (and safe) time frame.
  • Limited kitchen storage space and materials can make it challenging for citizens to store food.
  • In some households, there may be greater repercussions from keeping leftovers, as opposed to disposing of them.
  • This may be exacerbated by limited space, or if they have been allowed to spoil previously.
  • Some citizens may experience social pressure to cook fresh each day.
  • Leftover food can be seen as less appealing, of lower quality, and potentially unsafe.
  • Small amounts of leftovers may not be considered worth saving.
  • Storing leftovers requires extra effort.
  • Storing leftover food is not habitual for many people.

So, the resulting campaign ‘re-frames’ leftovers as something positive – a win. And to maximise motivation for keeping and using up any extra food, we have associated this with both cost and time savings, reinforcing positive perceptions of leftovers.

Q - The week also marks the release of a toolkit for those wanting to get involved in the campaign. Who is the toolkit aimed at?

Since 2021, Food Waste Action Week has been working with businesses, governments and global partners to increase awareness among citizens about the devastating impact food waste is having on our planet.

So, our key audiences for the toolkit are food businesses, especially retailers and the hospitality and food service sector, local authorities, and organisations around the world dedicated to tackling the global problem of household/ consumer food waste. The key end audience is, of course, citizens, and we want to reach as many as possible because over 70 per cent of wasted food (post-farm gate) in the UK arises in the home.

Q - How does the toolkit recommend reaching and engaging with citizens on the problem of food waste?

We want everyone to get behind this year’s Food Waste Action Week and make it the biggest and best yet. The toolkit contains a range of ready-to-go campaign assets, meaning our partners can engage their audiences with minimal effort and maximum impact! There is a teaser image, a 30-second hero film, eye-popping social media assets, posters and a logo lock-up.

Q - The campaign has some high-profile sponsors – Tesco, Lidl, and Ocado. What does sponsorship entail?

Sponsorship of Food Waste Action Week is open to any organisations who wish to support the Week. All of this year’s seven sponsors have committed money which is being used to increase the impact and amplification of the campaign.

Q - What does success look like for this year’s FWAW?

Ever since we launched Food Waste Action Week in 2021, we have monitored its impact closely. In 2022, the campaign reached over eight million people in the UK, with 55 per cent of them saying they did something about food waste as a result.

We felt this year’s campaign needed to be sensitive to the biggest issue currently facing UK householders, so the personal benefits of not wasting food are prominent – a change to the previous proposition: wasting food feeds climate change. However, the outcome Food Waste Action Week is striving for – less food wasted from our homes – remains the same.

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