More grocery stores means less food waste—and a big carbon cut

Elena Belavina. Credit: Cornell University

One strategy for reducing food waste’s environmental impact is as counterintuitive as it is straightforward: Open more grocery stores.

That’s according to new research from Elena Belavina, associate professor at the School of Hotel Administration in the Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business.
The spoiled milk, moldy vegetables and expired meat we discard when cleaning out the fridge make a surprisingly large contribution to global warming. One-third of all food produced is wasted, a problem responsible for carbon emissions equivalent to all road transportation, said Belavina.
“The more stores you have, the lower food waste is going to be,” said Belavina, an expert in operations management and supply chains. “Very small increases in store density can have a very high impact.”
When consumers can purchase perishable goods…

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