Revealing results of Matomatic’s measurements of food waste in school canteens

9 November 2023 By

The LOWINFOOD partners from Matomatic and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) have recently published an article in the scientific journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, where they assess both the performance of the Matomatic plate waste tracker and the results they have achieved with this tool regarding the food that is wasted in school canteens in Sweden.

For this study, the researchers measured the food waste generated in 16 Swedish school canteens between 2020 and 2023; in total, they collected data from 421,015 instances of food wastage.

The evaluation revealed high precision regarding Matomatic’s accuracy in measuring food wastage, with the tool’s plate waste detection falling within ±10% of manual recordings. However, the tool estimated 40% fewer individual guests compared to manual entry due to not all students wasting food, so Matomatic did not count them. 

As for the results produced by this technological innovation, it was revealed that a minority of students, only 20 %, were responsible for a significant proportion (60 %) of all food wasted. This result brought researchers to very insightful conclusions:

On the one hand, they stated that “identifying measures that target high-profile wasters would have a substantial impact in reducing plate waste overall”. For instance, if waste generated by this group of students could be halved, this would reduce overall food waste by 31 %.

On the other hand, they show some scepticism about the approach of policymakers and practitioners in the public catering sector seeking to achieve food waste reduction, as they target all pupils with the same information, campaigns, and nudges. “The results in the present study suggest that this is a waste of effort, as most of the pupils do not have any practical possibility to reduce their food waste. Greater potential lies in targeting a much smaller group of high food wasters that have real potential to reduce their waste”, they suggest.