First- and Second-order Mechanisms in Policy Design
Edited by Giliberto Capano, Michael Howlett, M Ramesh and Altaf Virani
Chapter 4: The mechanisms of food waste prevention: theory, design, and practice for changing behaviours
Designing policies contrasting food waste is among the latest challenges for policy analysts. Governments are experimenting a rich mix of tools, including campaigning, education measures, nudges, new regulations, and economic incentives. However, how food waste prevention works, how it is implemented, and how impacts are produced remain unclear, mostly because of a lack of comparable data, the paucity of evaluations, and the relative novelty of such measures. In order to fill this gap, the chapter proposes an analysis of the mechanisms of the Italian policy for food waste prevention. In particular, two measures are analysed: bureaucratic simplifications for donating food and the possibility to donate food after the best-before date (BBD). These measures are supposed to trigger very simple causal mechanisms, whose operation depend, however, on a complex configuration of factors, including donors’ capacity, the quality of surplus, the recovery skills of charities, and the reputational risks inherent in donations.
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