UC researchers propose new tool to measure school food packaging waste as few standardized methodologies exist

May 13, 2022

Nearly half of the 14,500 tons of solid waste generated by public schools in the US is food packaging. University of California researchers have created a standardized method to measure this waste as a first step toward reducing it. They started by evaluating methods used to quantify and categorize the types of food packaging waste generated and how it is disposed of in school foodservice settings in a new publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The article debuts a proposed new instrument–Waste Audit for Sustainable Transitions and Evaluations (WASTE)–to help the research community better measure and understand food packaging waste in US school foodservice. The study was led by UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management doctoral candidate Jessica Heiges in collaboration with Danielle Lee, Wendi Gosliner and Lorrene Ritchie from the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, Hannah Thompson and Kristine Madsen from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Kate O'Neill from the UC Berkeley Department of ESPM, Laura Vollmer from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Kate Wobbekind from San Francisco Unified School District. This research was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant number 2020-68015-30736.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist