Centre for Behaviour Change


Defra's Projects on Plate Waste & Timber Usage in Sustainability Drive

14 December 2023

Defra published two projects on behavioural systems mapping, one addressing plate waste in hospitality, identifying key barriers like excess portions, and another exploring timber use in construction to support net-zero goals.


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published two behavioural systems mapping projects carried out as part of an ESRC Policy Fellowship awarded to Dr Jo Davan Wetton from the Centre for Behaviour Change.

One project looked at barriers and enablers to reducing plate waste in hospitality settings. Over 200 hospitality workers created mind maps of what affects plate waste from their experience. These were combined into systems maps that showed the main perceived barriers to reducing plate waste included serving customers unwanted sides and garnishes, and serving portions that are too large.

Another project focused on barriers to the use of timber in construction. Over 70 professionals from a variety of construction roles (design, supply, engineering, building, commissioning, finance/insurance) contributed to systems maps looking at the use of traditional timber, engineered systems, and English wood products. The research contributed to the Timber in Construction Roadmap, which seeks to promote the use of timber construction as part of supporting delivery of net zero.