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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Automated quantification tool to monitor plate waste in school canteens

Malefors, Christopher; Svensson, Erik; Eriksson, Mattias


Automated tools for waste quantification hold promise in providing preciser understanding of food waste. This study evaluated a tool to quantify plate waste in primary school canteens. It encompassed data from 421,015 instances of food wastage. The evaluation revealed high accuracy, 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. As a result, the automatically collected data indicated a 35% higher waste-to-guest ratio. The findings showed that a minority of students (20%) accounted for a majority (60%) of plate waste. Halving the waste generated by this group would reduce overall plate waste by 31%, emphasizing the importance of tailored interventions for high-profile wasters rather than applying general measures to all students. Targeting areas with the greatest potential can contribute to a more sustainable food system with reduced waste.


Canteen; Meal planning; Sustainability aspects; Food waste; Public sector; Food service; School meal

Published in

Resources, Conservation and Recycling
2024, Volume: 200, article number: 107288