Preventing food waste in subsidy-based university dining systems: An artificial neural network-aided model under uncertainty

Mohammadali Faezirad, Alireza Pooya*, Zahra Naji-Azimi, Maryam Amir Haeri

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    129 Downloads (Pure)


    Food waste planning at universities is often a complex matter due to the large volume of food and variety of services. A major portion of university food waste arises from dining systems including meal booking and distribution. Although dining systems have a significant role in generating food wastes, few studies have designed prediction models that could control such wastes based on reservation data and behavior of students at meal delivery times. To fill this gap, analyzing meal booking systems at universities, the present study proposed a new model based on machine learning to reduce the food waste generated at major universities that provide food subsidies. Students’ reservation and their presence or absence at the dining hall (show/no-show rate) at mealtime were incorporated in data analysis. Given the complexity of the relationship between the attributes and the uncertainty observed in user behavior, a model was designed to analyze definite and random components of demand. An artificial neural network-based model designed for demand prediction provided a two-step prediction approach to dealing with uncertainty in actual demand. In order to estimate the lowest total cost based on the cost of waste and the shortage penalty cost, an uncertainty-based analysis was conducted at the final step of the research. This study formed a framework that could reduce the food waste volume by up to 79% and control the penalty and waste cost in the case study. The model was investigated with cost analysis and the results proved its efficiency in reducing total cost.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1027-1038
    Number of pages12
    JournalWaste Management and Research
    Issue number8
    Early online date10 May 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


    • artificial neural networks
    • error compensation
    • Food waste management
    • meal booking
    • university services


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