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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Household Food Waste Taxes: Findings from South Korea, Lessons for the U.S.

Apr 25, 2023, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Starting as early as 2005 select localities in South Korea required households to separate food waste and pay a weight-based fee for discarded items. Dr. Seunghoon Lee, postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will share research in which he exploits the gradual country-wide expansion of this program to evaluate how food waste taxes affected household food waste rates, food purchasing patterns, eating habits, and time use. Spoiler alert: he finds that a small tax (less than 3 cents/lb.) reduced food waste by 20% (~116 pounds/year). To understand how the South Korean experience might inform efforts in the United States, we turn to two panelists with deep policy experience at the municipal and state levels – Elaine Blatt, Senior Program and Policy Analyst at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Yvette Cabrera, Director, Food Waste, People & Communities Program at the National Resources Defense Council.

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Food Waste Graphic