What to do with dinner leftovers? The problem of food waste and its solutions.
Food waste has become an increasing problem globally. It is not only an ethical and economic issue, but it also reduces the resources we use to produce our food with. Nearly 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the European Union and all actors in the food chain have a role in preventing and reducing food waste. Being more efficient will save money and lower the environmental impact of food production and consumption. According to the European Commission, the following factors contribute to food waste:
- “Buy one get one free” promotions -> too much food is being produced and purchased
- The meaning of “best before” and “use by” dates are misunderstood -> edible goods are thrown away
- Inadequate storage/transport of food
There exist several approaches in order to reduce food waste. For example, you can freeze your food, use up your dinner leftovers, store your food correctly in plastic bags/silver foil or you can buy less food, which will also save you money. As shown in the graph below, food waste from households contributes the highest proportion.
Six high-tech solutions have been established in order to reduce food waste in the Food/drink manufacturing, Food service/hospitality and Retail/wholesale industry. Ensuing, a summation of the programs will be provided.
The software firm developed a program allowing restaurants and institutional food service providers (e.g. hospitals and universities) to track the amount of food being thrown away and use the data to adapt their reduce wasting processes. Clients use scales to weigh their food waste and this data, together with the source of waste, is being stored in the cloud. LeanPath analyses the data and provides reports with practices to reduce waste. Clients have already reduced food waste up to 80%.
- Spoiler Alert
Spoiler Alert is a mobile and web-based platform on which users (e.g. supermarkets and restaurants) can post details about their available excess of food. A network of recipients (e.g. food pantries) will receive and use the food. Users have the option to conduct transactions via donations, discounted food sales and waste recovery opportunities (e.g. build a compost bin)
- Local Roots
A new app, which helps farmers and food artisans connect with customers who want to buy local food. The app makes use of location data to generate an available product list and to schedule pick-up or delivery. According to the creators, local farmers and food producers often struggle to connect with buyers; the app creates new opportunities to bring them together, reducing the amount of fresh food that spoils because it’s unsold.
- Eco-Safe Digester
A device created by BioHitech America that uses heat, moisture and oxygen to break down food into water. It is an on-site digester sending wastewater through the sewer lines to water treatment facilities. The digester makes use of Big Data, allowing users to record details about waste. BioHitech America generates reports allowing users to identify inefficiencies in operations.
This app has been developed to educate consumers about food safety concerns. It contains a searchable database with more than 500 foods, including cooking tips, food storage advice and information about expiration dates. The app also offers a 24-hour virtual hotline (called “Ask Karen”) for real time answers to food storage questions.
- FareShare FoodCloud
An app created by Tesco, sending alerts to partner charities (FareShare and FoodCloud) about excess food that is edible but at risk of being thrown away. The food is offered for free and charities can use the app to confirm they want the food. A pick-up will be arranged and the food will be turned into meals and given to organizations like homeless shelters and school breakfast programs. The goal of the app is to reduce waste by immediately putting it to good use.
I believe these initiatives can definitely reduce food wasting and make everyone more conscious about their own food wastage footprint.
Do you think these initiatives will reduce food waste? If not, what other solutions do you think might work? How large is your food wastage footprint?
Ps: If you like this subject, you should visit restaurant ‘In Stock’ in Amsterdam. A restaurant that collects their products from Albert Heijn stores in order to reduce food waste.
346450, Merel Smit