In September 2020, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), in partnership with 150+ organizations and businesses in central Ohio that make up the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative (COFWI), launched “Save More Than Food,” an awareness campaign to educate consumers about food waste and how to prevent it. The campaign is one of 20 elements in COFWI’s comprehensive plan to cut food waste in half by 2030 via preventing food waste, rescuing and redistributing edible food, and recycling food through composting and other technologies. In November, SWACO was awarded a $60,000 U.S. EPA grant to conduct pre- and post-campaign research in one community, giving COFWI the ability to find out how the campaign has an impact on residents’ views and behaviors regarding food waste. It is partnering with The Ohio State University (OSU) and the city of Upper Arlington on this grant project.
OSU’s research team will develop and conduct surveys between February 1 and May 31, 2021. SWACO will work with Upper Arlington officials to communicate with residents about the surveys and waste audit, and help promote the Save More than Food campaign to residents through emails, newsletters, webinars and community events. The OSU research team will also analyze waste audit data from random samples of residential waste and separate it into categories to determine how much of it is food and help to determine the types of food waste reduction practices that are having the greatest impact. Results of the surveys and waste audit are expected by November 2021; the OSU team will write a peer-reviewed manuscript for academic use and likely host webinars aimed at the consumer audience.