This document provides a summary of the methodology for the Household Simulation Model (HHSim).

Background to household food waste

The generation of waste food in the home is a complex issue. There are many, interrelated reasons for waste being created and many different actions that can prevent this waste from arising. These drivers for waste generation and prevention cover several different areas: how the food is sold and its pricing structure, its shelf life, how the food is stored in the home, and ways in which it is prepared and served.

As most of the drivers occur well in advance of the food being discarded, it is necessary to understand how these drivers influence the passage of food through the home over a relative long period of time. Furthermore, the various drivers of food-waste generation interact with each other: for example, whether an item gets thrown away because its passed its use-by date depends on – amongst other things – the frequency with which people go shopping, how much of that item they buy on a shop, the size of the packs, the shelf life and how much they consume in a relevant period. Given this complexity, it is useful to deploy methods that can model these interactions.

The HHSim described below is currently being used to investigate how various changes to a product or to decisions / behaviours within a household influence the amount of food waste. In many cases, it would not be practical to empirically measure the effects of these changes in real households as the scale of primary research required would be prohibitively expensive.

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