If current trends continue, global food waste at the consumer stage will double by 2050. Reducing the amount wasted by consumers is critical for meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for halving global food loss and waste by 2030.

This working paper summarizes the methodology and results from two original randomized controlled trials that reached more than 40 million consumers in order to assess the impact of social norms messaging on consumers’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors around food waste.

It finds that making food waste socially unacceptable through the right type of messaging can elevate the importance of this issue in consumers’ lives. While social norms messages, by themselves, are not a panacea for eliminating consumer food waste, they can contribute to significant reductions in waste when included in multicomponent interventions. The paper provides 10 insights that can be incorporated into campaigns led by nongovernmental organizations, local and national governments, and businesses aiming to help reduce household food waste.