Food waste in the P2P sharing economy

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

Reducing food waste is widely recognized as critical for improving resource efficiency and meeting the nutritional demand of a growing human population. We explored whether the sharing economy can provide meaningful assistance to reducing food waste in a relatively low-impact and environmentally-sound way. Analyzing 170,000 postings on the world's most popular peer-to-peer food-sharing app- OLIO, we found that over 19 months, 90t of food waste with an equivalent retail value of £0.7 million were collected by secondary consumers and diverted from disposal. An environmental analysis focused on Greater London revealed that these exchanges were responsible for avoiding emission of 87-156t of CO2-eq.

In addition to environmental

impacts we also examined the socio-economic make up of users. Our results suggest that most exchanges were among users associated with lower income yet higher levels of education. These findings, together with the high collection rates (60% on average) suggest that the sharing economy may offer powerful means for improving resource efficiency and reducing food waste.

Makov, T. PI, Shepon, A. PI, Krones, J. C, Gupta, C. C, Chertow, M. C, (Forthcoming)), “Social and environmental analysis of food waste abatement via the Peer-to- Peer Sharing Economy”, Nature Communications.