`Nudging’ Hotel Guests to Reduce Food Waste as a Win–Win Environmental Measure.

Kalbekken (2011)
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Summary by 
Mark Egan

The authors conducted a natural field experiment in Norway working with a household appliances retailer to encourage more energy-efficient purchases. An information treatment condition provided labels showing the cost of the products’ lifetime energy consumption. A training treatment provided training to sales staff. Neither treatment had any effect on the purchase of fridge freezers but they resulted in more energy efficient tumbler driers sold by 4.9% and 3.4% respectively.

We show that two simple and nonintrusive ‘nudges’–reducing plate size and providing social cues–reduce the amount of food waste in hotel restaurants by around 20%. The results are statistically significant. They are also environmentally substantial as food waste is a major contributor to climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. Given the magnitude of the contribution of food waste to global environmental change, it is surprising that this issue has not received greater attention. The measures reduce the amount of food the restaurants need to purchase, and there is no change in guest satisfaction, making it likely that profits will increase. The measures thus constitute potential win–win opportunities.