Testing Food Waste Reduction Targets: Integrating Transition Scenarios with Macro-Valuation in an Urban Living Lab

Daniel Black, Taoyuan Wei, Eleanor Eaton, Alistair Hunt, Joy Carey, Ulrich Schmutz, Bingzi He, Ian Roderick

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Bristol, one of the United Kingdom’s (UK) nine Core Cities, is seeking to achieve Zero Waste City status by 2049. This study combines macro-economic valuation with transition pathway mapping and adapted participatory scenario planning to stress test the city’s ambitious food waste targets. The primary aim is to enable better understanding of who might be affected by achieving these targets, both locally and nationally, the potential scale of impacts, and therefore the potential barriers and policy opportunities. The valuation focuses on household and commercial food waste, combining available site and city data with national level proxies. Impact areas include changes in sectoral income, employee income, capital owner income, tax revenue, and carbon emissions. Four scenarios, based on two extreme cases, are modelled to consider food waste reduction and potential shifts in consumption patterns. Results indicate that current market and governance failures incentivise waste, and suggest potential routes to transition, including trade-offs and resource reallocation, alongside the need to acknowledge and respond to these profound structural barriers. With further development and testing, the approach may contribute to a better understanding of how to achieve city socioenvironmental targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6004
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Early online date30 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research his research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant # 730254) within the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI) from JPI Urban Europe. The SUGI Food Water Energy (FWE) Nexus was established by the Belmont Forum and the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe and included 20 funders globally. Funders who directly supported this project were: InnovateUK, Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council Award # ES/S002243/1 (UK); START International—USA (South Africa); Sao Paulo Science and Technology Funding Agency (FAPESP), Award # 2017/50421-3 (Brazil); National Science Foundation Award # 1830104 (USA); The Research Council of Norway (Norway); Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk (NOW) Award # 438-17-405 (Netherlands); and Research Council of Norway (Grant # 284599). These funders had no involvement in the design, data handling, or writing of this publication.

Funding Information:
This paper was developed following a three-year international research project, WASTE FEW ULL—a Food–Energy–Water (FEW) ULL—which aimed to identify and reduce inefficiencies in the urban FEW “Nexus”—i.e., the interrelationship between these three core resource flows across four ULLs in Bristol (UK), Sao Paolo (Brazil), Western Cape (South Africa), and Rotterdam (the Netherlands). The consortium was funded by the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI), a global network of funders convened jointly by JPI Urban Europe and the Belmont Forum []. Its focus was on challenges “connected with population increase and food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources demand solutions” in order “to increase the access and the quality of life”. It had a specific goal of sustainable consumption [] and resides firmly within conceptual challenge areas of Ecological Public Health, One Health, or Planetary Health. Details of the consortium and the Bristol ULL are provided in the and can be accessed via the website and linked publications [,,].

Data Availability Statement:
The data presented in this study are available via the links/references provided or in the Supplementary Material. Data were also obtained from Bristol Waste and Wessex Water/GENeco and may be available with their permission.


  • barrier identification
  • food waste
  • macro-economics
  • participatory scenario planning
  • societal impact
  • systems thinking
  • transition pathways
  • urban governance
  • urban health
  • valuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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