Reducing Food Waste with Technology
Whether you’re a normal consumer like myself or you have a local business to take care of, there is a whole bunch of new technologies providing new and creative ways to reduce food wastage, whilst saving you some serious money on your weekly food shop.
Though some of these ideas are just starting up, it takes people like us trying new things and spreading the word to make a huge difference (as cheesy as it may sound).
So have a scroll down below and see for yourself……..you’ll probably find that its much easier to cut down on food waste than you thought!
The Food sharing app
OLIO is a fantastic free app which essentially allows you to share surplus food with your local community rather than throwing it away. Whether you have food nearing its sell-by date, spare home grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or still have groceries in your fridge when you go away; this app is the perfect quick and easy solution. Simply put, you can get free food whilst meeting new people (except not in the Hansel and Gretel kind of way).
I should note that whilst OLIO continues to become more and more popular, it is still a relatively unknown idea by scale so naturally it can be difficult to share food with a community of users if there are no other users where you live.
This is where you and I step in to help.
Once you’re all started on the app, why not spread the word among friends, family or neighbours, essentially establishing your very own colony of food waste revolutionists. Whilst this may seem like effort, it only takes two minutes to open the app, add a photo, description and when and where the item is available for pick up. That’s a small ask for receiving several free items of food and feeling like an environmental boss (and even the occasional free bag of Maryland cookies at the end of a long day at work).
If your interested in finding out more about OLIO or want to help even further, feel free to check out their website for recent blogs, news updates and volunteering opportunities or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Zera Food Recycler
Designed for the kitchen, Zera Food Recycler reduces food waste by over two-thirds its original volume through a fully automated process. The result is ready-to-use fertilizer within 24 hours* that you can spread on your lawn, outdoor plants, and garden, making Zera Food Recycler the easy-to-use solution for sending less food to the landfill, and more to your land.
The Winnow System
The Winnow System makes it quick and easy to record exactly how food is being wasted through smart meter technology attached to your food waste bin.
- Food waste is thrown away in the usual way into any bin, which is placed on a smart weighing meter
- Staff use the simple touchscreen, fully customised to your menu, to quickly identify the type of food thrown away and at what stage. It literally takes seconds.
- Cloud software analyses and records the day’s waste. The menu integration allows the system to automatically record a number of key metrics.
- In real-time, staff are shown the value of each item thrown away, driving behaviour change. Daily reports are also sent to your inbox that pinpoint key opportunities to cut waste, benchmark multiple sites and track performance.
The Fair Food Forager
The Fair Food Forager ranks cafes, restaurants, grocers and suppliers on how sustainable they are. The website and smart phone app gives information to consumers about how the food provider scores on food waste, plastic waste, sourcing local produce, and sourcing sustainable and cruelty-free food.
More and more people look towards social media platforms to show off their special meals from their local or holiday diner and give their reviews. Ranking restaurants on their sustainability and amount of local produce can help make changes in their habits and make them strive to do better in order to get better reviews and therefore more customers. Meanwhile, you can sit and eat your weight in well sourced food (hopefully).
Food Rescue Apps
U.S. company Food Cowboy has developed an app that allows food companies to donate surplus food to nearby charities and organic waste to composters, farmers and biogas generators.
Currently, the app has over 400 charity users and 200 donors. While the donor list is made up of growers, shippers and wholesalers, co-founder Barbara Cohen says the app can also be used to support food recovery programs bringing food from stores, restaurants or other food establishments to local charities.
“Current and proposed responses to food waste, including banning food waste from landfills and requiring retailers to donate 100 percent of their unsaleables, are not grounded in present logistical and economic realities,” Cohen says. “Clearly, a coordinated industry response is required.”
And, she argues, such a response makes economic sense for the industry. Under recent changes to the U.S. tax code, “recovering and donating supply chain waste would allow the food industry to reduce its taxable income by up to US$6 billion a year and eliminate US$1.3 billion in disposal fees,” she says. “Recovering and donating just 7 percent of wasted food each year would allow the industry to take an additional US$485 million in deductions.”
In Finland, the app Froodly offers a chance to be part of the solution to food waste, while benefiting from discounted food. The app shows users about-to-expire supermarket products for discounts of between 30 and 70 percent.
Co-founder Brennan Clark says he decided to focus on supermarkets because they were the shining example of how bad the world’s food waste problem has become, and also the most accessible place for consumers.
“We had seen previous solutions that weren’t scaling up very effectively, and so we chose to … try and make it a consumer’s movement against food waste,” he says.
Clark’s aim is to develop a mass-market tool, but Froodly currently focuses on green consumers and students. “Green consumers really buy into the mission and are ready to help reduce food waste, while students — some of which are also green consumers — really appreciate the cost savings associated with these products,” he says.
In a similar vein, California-based CropMobster tries to connect food producers and retailers looking to deal with excess food before it gets wasted with those who can use it. Producers and retailers submit alerts of surplus food (among other things), labeling them deals or donations, and subscribers receive these alerts and can contact the producers and retailers directly.
CEO Nick Papadopoulos’ eyes were opened to food waste — and its resultant loss of earnings for producers — after he started managing his family’s farm.
“I witnessed a lot of premium fresh produce going unsold and even undonated,” he says. “It really tore me up because I saw the love and investment that went into the effort from our farm’s perspective as a family business.”
Papadopoulos says CropMobster is designed to solve a variety of different problems experienced by individuals on the platform.
“It could be a high volume excess of old cheese or bread that needs to find a home with composters or pig farmers; a hunger-relief group looking for volunteers or equipment or more food donations; [or] a farmer trying to make a quick and easy donation of food,” he says. “Whatever the specific [donor] alerts, the goal is to rapidly spread their alert, help them share their need” and hopefully get something that would otherwise be wasted into the hands of someone who can use it.
Waste to Feed
In South Africa, one company has come up with a wriggly approach to food waste.
AgriProtein Technologies takes organic waste from food factories, restaurants and hotels, plus out-of-date produce from supermarkets, and creates larvae feed from it. They then feed the product to fly larvae, which in turn become food for chickens and farm-raised fish.
This process should not only reduce food waste, but also the company while benefit cost wise, while reducing the environmental footprint of raising chicken and fish.
The idea of recycling glass, paper and water as its such an overheard concept that it often taken for granted. Creating and discarding nutrients has a much higher environmental impact which if addressed, could be the perfect stepon the road towards becoming a more sustainable planet.