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Modeling Fluid Milk Waste and the Role of Packaging within the Home



Fluid milk waste makes up 8% of all food wasted and lost in the US. This equates to approximately 4.52 billion L wasted by US consumers each year. Small savings from this enormous total could feed children in elementary schools, fulfill nutritional requirements for food insecure American households, and reduce food’s environmental footprint. Few models have been created on food loss and waste generation (FLWG) within the home for American households, but they could provide insight on causes of FLWG. This study examines how discrete-event simulation (DES) and Monte Carlo (MC) simulation can identify areas for FLWG through packaging, specifically for fluid milk. Simevents®, a product built upon the MATLAB® and Simulink® platform, was used to create the milk waste and loss DES model. Model parameters include: amount and type of consumption, type and number of containers bought, buying behavior, shelf life of milk, and waste generation. Simulations comparing purchase of quart size, half gallon, and gallon milk containers were run for 365 days to identify which package type reduces waste for 50 one, two and four person households. Because milk typically has a 7-day shelf life after opening, purchase of two smaller containers, rather than one large container, can effectively prolong shelf life and reduce environmental footprint. Previous research indicates that increasing packaging can lower overall environmental impact if waste is reduced. Further scenarios were evaluated such as extension of milk shelf life, and variation in consumption behavior such as frequency and deviation from mean, milk drinking, milk with tea/coffee, milk with cereal and cooking with milk. Series of parameters were modeled for 1, 2, and 4 person households. Additional field-testing is necessary to determine whether modeled scenarios hold true.


Food Loss, Food Waste, Environmental Footprint, Dairy, ConsumptionText


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