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“Stay at Home”: The effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on household food waste in Colombia

  • Mejia, Daniela
  • Díaz, Manuel F.
  • Charry, Andrés
  • Enciso, Karen
  • Ramírez, Oscar
  • Burkart, Stefan
Publication Date
Oct 28, 2021
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Household food waste represents one of the main challenges for sustainable development as this directly affects the economy of food consumers, the loss of natural resources and generates additional greenhouse gas emissions. The COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation strategies caused one of the most serious economic crises in recent decades and could become the worst economic crisis that Latin America has had in its history. The objective of this study is to analyze changes in food waste behavior during the COVID-19 lockdown in Colombia in 2020, applying the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). For this purpose, we conducted a survey with 581 Colombian food consumers, which examined the influence of intentions to not waste food, subjective norms, some situational predictors, questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the control of perceived behavior on food waste. The results suggest that the TPB can predict the intention to not waste food and, through it, the actual household food waste behavior, considering the lockdown in Colombia as an external shock. We observe that regarding the intention to not waste food, the most relevant variables are attitudes, subjective norms, control of the perceived behavior, and concerns regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. These variables increase the probability on average by a 0.8 Odds Ratio that the intention not to waste food increases, too. Regarding food waste behavior, whether it is considered ordinal or nominal, we see that the most relevant variables are intention, financial attitudes, and control of perceived behavior, doubling the probability that food waste behavior will improve. Based on the results, we provide recommendations for interested stakeholders that can help in the design of instruments for household food waste reduction.

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