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Tackling food waste challenge using supply chain control towers

The significant amount of waste in the food supply chain is a multifaceted problem with several economic, social, and environmental manifestations. Yet, there has never been a systematic solution that transcends the individual supply chain and targets the larger scale supply networks. However, extraordinary measures can be coordinated via the concept of “supply chain control towers” which is the focus of this project. We develop mechanisms and implementation road maps for matching up the supply of excessive food items and redirecting the flow of products in accordance with shifts in demand. Using analytics and data sciences, the project enables the creation of novel connections in agri-food supply networks to reduce wastage of food and implement this with the help of industry partners and policymakers. 

Research aims

The current food production and consumption habits, underpinned by neoliberal capitalistic rationalities, has resulted in a number of negative environmental impacts such as eutrophication and increased CO2 emissions (Baroni et al., 2006), as well as massive amounts of food waste. According to WRAP, the UK generates 8.3 million metric tonnes of food and drink household waste each year, valued at least $18.6 billion and responsible for about 3% of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is a lack of appropriate supply chain control mechanism to monitor and reduce food waste across the supply chain. To establish synergistic collaborations where waste and by-products can be exchanged, sold or transferred, it is crucial to determine how stakeholders can work together and develop potential applications for unwanted materials (Cimren et al., 2011). This is the key research gap this project aims to address. The specific objective of this study is to develop a supply chain control tower taking into accounts elements of technology (for their creation and implementation), economics (for mechanism design purposes), and incorporate consumers behaviour to tackle food waste.

This is a unique research initiative that intends to solve a major societal challenge-food waste using the advanced operations research principle “supply chain tower”. Manoj is co-investigator in this project will help with the context of food waste and I will do the mathematical model and design the tower. There are no studies found in the literature using this innovative approach to solve the food waste problem.

Expected research impact

  • Economic: The most significant impact will be made to enhancing the understanding of the ‘true’ costs of food waste, its opportunity and addressing the entire supply chain. The main output of this project, i.e., the development of supply chain control towers (SCCT), will be designed with input from a food supply chain member.
  • Social: With the application of SCCTs, the local food supply chains will be more efficient and make better use of available resources. This not only reduce the amount of useable food going to waste, but also will help stabilize food prices, benefiting low-income families the most.
  • Environmental: The research will enable stakeholders in the supply chain to use, reuse, and recycle food waste in the supply chain and diminish the detrimental impacts of food wastage.
  • Policy: The identified incentives for chain members (farmers, processors, retailers) to move beyond current market dynamics towards implementing SCCT’ principles will assist the design of new policies.
  • Academic: A special issue of a journal on "food waste and supply chain control tower" will help scholars define future research agendas for this topic. An impact case study will be prepared and submitted to a 4* journal (EJOR).


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Behzad Hezarkhani
Dr Manoj Dora

Related Research Group(s)


Operations and Information Systems Management - We specialize in responsible and sustainable operation management exploring information systems, operations research, management science, and general management and strategic management knowledge and approaches across public and private industry sectors


Entrepreneurship and Sustainability - Our focus is on how individuals, businesses and societies can tap into creative and entrepreneurial flair to develop innovative solutions, in order to not only create economic value, but also solve social and environmental problems.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 09/01/2024