The Milk Model: Simulating food waste in the home

January 2013

This report describes research that models the impact of purchases and consumption on waste levels. The model simulates a household over time and estimates the impact on waste levels of various decisions made relating to shopping, storing and consumption of milk.

The work focuses on milk as an example, although many of the qualitative findings are applicable to food and drink more generally.

The approach successfully explains many results observed in previous research, such as the trend in waste levels for households of different sizes. It also allows many factors contributing to household food waste to be explored, for example the impact of changing product shelf life and of consumers purchasing their milk in different pack sizes.

The modelling technique – discrete event simulation (DES) – is not new, but its application to food waste in the home is novel and provides many useful insights.

The work suggests that system-based approaches to considering waste prevention in the home can increase understanding of the issues and determine the approximate impact of potential changes.

If you would like access to the milk model itself, please contact Tom.Quested@wrap.org.uk.