Using plenty of research methods, we gathered a comprehensive understanding of the context of our POG and how we can revise it to appropriately address modern food-waste related issues. These methods included stakeholder mapping, consumer surveys, restaurant interviews, scientific literature review, and VOA. Below highlights my favorite aspects of this phase for their interesting and impactful value for our project.
Two batches of user surveys illustrated sustainable food habits of students and young professionals in our networks. Many conclusions were highlighted such as that there is a high frequency of reusable water usage, but reusable food containers are used moderately instead. This also showed that most user habits are out of convenience— a reusable container is much less convenient than a reusable water bottle, because of cleaning difficulties and fewer opportunities for use.
Time-consuming, challenging, but ultimately enthralling, science literature review was extremely informative for understanding single use waste in various contexts. What was most interesting was the life cycle analyses of various single-use items compared to their reusable alternatives. Reusables, in its current state, may not have as much green value/impact as we anticipated.
We had an interview with the CalDining head of sustainability and received a tour of Crossroads Dining Hall. We stepped through the entire food process: sourcing, preparation, serving, and waste collection. We also learned about their methods of minimizing waste, such as a waste audit for measuring diversion rate. This was another pivotal research event in revising our POG.
Phase 2 Revised POG:
"Minimizing the environmental impact of single-use waste by maximizing the efficacy of existing recycling and composting services at restaurants."