Recent solutions to the global food waste problem that costs €850 billion and weighs 1.3 billion tonnes.
Around €850 billion worth of food is wasted annually, making a food-waste mountain that weighs 1.3 billion tonnes.
There are many reasons for this, including weather, processing problems, overproduction, unstable markets, overbuying, poor planning, food labels and Health & Safety.
Tackling food waste is particularly integral to helping protect the environment because the more food that goes into landfill, the more methane is produced and released into the atmosphere. One report even states that if food were removed from UK landfills, the amount of methane saved from going into the atmosphere would be equivalent to removing one-fifth of all the cars in the UK from the road.
To properly respond, there needs to be a variety of ways in which we address the issue. As can be expected, innovations tackling food waste are some of the most popular we see here at Springwise. Here are seven recent solutions that stand out.
— Holly Hamilton
1. AI-ENABLED SYSTEM HELPS PROFESSIONAL KITCHENS REDUCE FOOD WASTE
Food tech company Winnow has developed an AI-enabled system that helps kitchens track and reduce the amount of food waste produced. Earlier last year, Winnow introduced “Winnow Waste Monitor” a food waste monitoring system already being used across kitchens in over 40 countries. The system is comprised of a digital scale and a connected tablet that records the weight of the food item being thrown out. The disposer then selects the reason and identifies the item/dish using the tablet.
In real-time, staff are then shown the value of each item thrown away, which is meant to drive behavioural change. Daily reports are also provided that pinpoint key opportunities to cut waste and track performance. “What gets measured gets managed, and by using data intelligently kitchens can be made more efficient,” said Winnow.
2. GIANT MECHANICAL STOMACH TURNS FOOD WASTE TO ENERGY
The City of Cockburn in Perth, Australia, is using an anaerobic digester to turn the city’s food waste into green energy. The digester, located at a nearby fertiliser plant, is fed food scraps collected from restaurants and supermarkets. It is currently producing enough methane to power around 3,000 homes.
After collecting the food waste, it is put through machinery which removes any packaging and other non-food contamination. The waste is then mixed with water and pulped to form a slurry, before being pumped into the digesters. Inside the digesters, bacteria break down the organic molecules in the waste and produces methane gas.
The methane gas is then siphoned off and used to run two large generators that together produce up to 2.4 megawatts of electricity – enough to power the company’s entire operation, along with around 3,000 neighbouring homes.
3. DESIGN STUDIO TURNS FOOD WASTE INTO HOME FURNISHINGS
Turkish design firm Ottan Studio has come up with a novel way to save on natural resources – by upcycling materials such as fruit peels, nutshells, fallen leaves or mown grass into sustainable home furnishings. The firm says that its process allows organic waste to be used for manufacturing home furnishings, rather than cutting down trees. With around 800 million tonnes of garden waste alone generated in cities annually, there is plenty of raw material available.
Ottan Studio sources its materials by collecting food and plant waste from local companies and municipalities. Materials include expired food products, grass and tree branches. The company turns these into colourful products such as lamps, tabletops, wall treatments and even automobile interiors. All of the colours are derived from the materials and include no added colourants.
4. AN INTERVENTION SOLUTION THAT MANAGES AND REINVENTS FOOD WASTE
The Pairish app is a food waste intervention solution that redirects food from the waste stream through proper management, along the food ageing process. It also provides the opportunity to reinvent leftover fruits and vegetables into a new resource, with its pickling and smoothie making mixes. Pairish believes that sustainability should be attainable and enjoyable, and hopes to change consumer attitudes by creating a manageable solution and empowering users to do good.
Users of the app simply have to scan their supermarket receipts, which will direct them to Pairish ingredients that are getting old. Taking into account other available ingredients and dietary restrictions, the app provides options for users to pickle or blend, freeze to extend food lifespans, or cook with recipe suggestions. The Smoothish and Picklish product lines work in unison with the Pairish app, providing users with extra nutrients and all their favourite flavours in compostable packaging.
5. AI-POWERED APP CAN INSTANTLY RATE FRESHNESS OF MEAT
An international research team created an AI-powered e-nose that monitors the freshness of meat and fish. Led by scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, the system works via a smartphone app, a biodegradable barcode and deep convolutional neural network artificial intelligence.
The barcode is made of 20 dye-loaded nanocomposites embedded in cellulose acetate. When the nanocomposites detect changes in the gases emitted from food as it matures, the barcode changes colour. All materials in the barcode are non-toxic and biodegradable, making them safe to use across a range of foodstuffs and at various stages of preparation and use.
6. MODULAR FRIDGE DESIGN HELPS PREVENT FOOD WASTE
Refrigerator user experience is probably a fairly rare area of interest. Thank goodness for Thalis Nicolaou. His PRESENTA fridge design completely reimagines the appliance, with the specific goal of improving user experience, and reducing food waste. Having identified the depth of refrigerators as the cause of most foods being forgotten and so thrown away, Nicolaou has created a folding, modular storage system that easily reveals the contents.
The door of the new design completely folds aside, thus eliminating the need to awkwardly hold it open with a shoulder, while searching for something in the back. The storage racks pull out and rotate, allowing users to see what is on the shelves at a glance. Each shelf is itself a removable, modular storage unit that can be moved up and down or taken out entirely. This design flexibility makes it much easier to accommodate cumbersome items, as well as alter the layout as contents change.
7. AN APP THAT FINDS A NEARBY HOME FOR UNWANTED FOOD
When Tessa Clarke packed up her apartment in Switzerland to move back to the UK, she was struck by the fact that she could not find anyone to give her leftover food to. In response, she teamed up with fellow Stanford MBA grad Saasha Celestial-One and started Olio.
The premise of Olio is simple: users download the app, then snap photos of any food items that you don’t want and add them to the app’s listings. Users nearby receive alerts and can request the items. Pick-up is arranged by private messaging. According to Olio, 50 per cent of all food listings added to the app is requested in less than two hours.
21st April 2021