Social media: The real impact on food waste reduction beyond the swipe or the click

Food waste is at the top of waste hierarchy, which has contributed up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and presented significant global sustainability challenges (Sharp, Giorgi, & Wilson, 2010). In Australia, the food waste bill is estimated at $20 billion a year, making it the world’s fourth highest food waster per capita. One third of that food waste is generated from households, costing the average family $195 a month. To combat the food waste issues, worldwide social media campaigns have been increasingly used as a tool of public education and intervention, such as United Nations’ “Think.Eat.Save. Reduce your foodprint”, UK’s “Love food hate waste”, US’ “Food recovery challenge”, and Australia’s “Fight food waste. It’s easy as” campaign.

While social media campaigns potentially gain large public traffic, their influence on people’s perceptions of, knowledge about, and behavior toward food waste is under-researched. In particular, limited evidence exists to ascertain the link between social media campaigns and public behavioural changes (Leavy et al., 2011). Against this backdrop, this project aims to explore viable approaches, key models, and solution plans to evaluate the multi-layered influence of social media campaigns in altering Australians’ beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviours to reduce food waste. Overall, this research seeks to build a multifunctional evaluation matrix that can be applied to assess the effectiveness of social media campaigns in multiple aspects, which accrue to eventual behavioural changes. The results of this project benefit businesses, public sectors, not-for-profit organisations, and policymakers in the following ways:

  • Provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of behavioural change process process facilitated by (but not limited to) social media campaigns
  • Identify optimum, context-sensitive approaches to measuring the efficacy of social media campaigns from different aspects
  • Discern the essential elements of social media campaigns contributing to awareness building and behavioural change
  • Enable informed decision-making to invest, develop, and evaluate social media campaigns aimed at behavioural outcomes

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research program:

Transforming Media Industries

Project team


Project partners

  • FFW CRC and NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

Project funding

  • Australia Government CRC Program (2020-2021)

artwork for Fight Food Waste