Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

The role of reducing food waste for resilient food systems

Bajzelj, Bojana; Quested, Thomas E; Röös, Elin; Swannell, Richard PJ


Food waste undermines long-term resilience of the global food system by aggravating ecosystem damage. The global community must therefore work to reduce the amount of food that gets wasted. However, we should be mindful of some potential conflicts between food waste reduction and food system resilience. Over-production and over-supply are a contributing cause of waste, yet they also provide resilience in the form of redundancy. In this paper, we examine individual interventions designed to minimise food waste by scoring their impact on different aspects of resilience. We find that there are strong synergistic elements and interventions that support short- and long-term resilience, such as improved storage, which reduces the need to provide a constant flow of ‘surplus food’ and replaces it with a stock of ‘spare’ food. Some interventions carry a risk of trade-offs due to possible losses of redundancy, and investment lock-in that may reduce the ability of farmers to adapt by changing what and where they farm. Trade-offs do not mean that those interventions should not be pursuit, but they should be recognised so that can be adequately addressed with complimentary actions. This review underlines the necessity of food-systems thinking and joined-up policy.


Food waste; Resilience; Food sustainability; Interventions; Food policy

Published in

Ecosystem Services
2020, volume: 45, article number: 101140

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Bajzelj, Bojana
Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
Quested, Thomas E
Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Swannell, Richard PJ
Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

Associated SLU-program

Food Waste

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

UKÄ Subject classification

Food Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)