Eliminating food waste through technology: the best apps

Eliminating food waste through technology: the best apps
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Next time you go grocery shopping, imagine getting three neatly full bags of food, immediately binning one of them as you leave the store. Symbolic but illustrative of society’s food waste problem which accounts for $1 trillion in wasted food annually – or a third of all grown and produced food. VC investors and private equity firms have shown to be hungry for innovative tech solutions aiming to solve the food crisis problem. In the first 10 months of 2018 alone $125 million were raised by companies fighting food waste. Can you help reduce food waste while browsing your phone? Fit these apps in your daily routine and make a difference to the environment. One free download away.

Karma : rescuing over-produced food by cafes, restaurants and grocery stores

Karma’s mission is to fight food waste by ‘rescuing’ the over-produced food by cafes, restaurants and grocery stores, which would have otherwise been trashed. How? The app connects vendors with excess food to hungry customers on the lookout for a bargain using AI, and has already saved 295 tonnes of food since its launch in 2016! Food operators list surplus meals and unsold items on Karma at half price - which then become available to Karma’s 500k+ users to discover. The app alerts users to the closest deals in proximity to their location- high quality food from local vendors at 50% off! It’s a way for restaurants and cafes to earn additional revenue, be promoted to new customers and save on wasted meal costs while making a real impact on the environment. The Swedish start-up was ranked amongst the top 50 most innovative companies worldwide in Fast Company’s latest 2019 list. Since its inception, it has helped save over 442 tonnes of CO2. Available in London, Paris and 150 cities in Sweden.

Too Good to Go: making retailers’ excess food available at a discount

Another innovative platform which fights food waste by making retailers’ excess food available at a discount to users looking for a meal deal. The ‘community of waste warriors’ using the app now surpasses 7.5 million and the spreads across 9 countries in Europe. Too Good to Go’s partner restaurants and vendors can list the unsold food at the end of each shift (morning, lunch, dinner) often at over 50% off. Rather than specifying each leftover item, the surplus food is packaged as a ‘Magic Bag’ -ready to be ‘saved’, rather than binned. Users can browse venues based on name, time and location- paying in-app for their meal. Contents of the mystery ‘Magic Bag’ are revealed upon collection in store- a selection of excess but perfectly good food that would have been otherwise wasted. ‘We’re building a global movement and our mission is to inspire everyone to take action against food waste’, says the app’s marketing manager, Anoushka Grover. Too Good to Go has been downloaded over 8.3 million times and has saved over 12,036,262 meals since its launch in 2016.

OLIO: connecting neighbours to share excess groceries

Over half of all food waste in most developed countries takes place in the home. The average UK household throws away close to £800 worth of food per year! OLIO has started a food sharing revolution in society’s core- the local community. The app connects neighbours with one another and nearby shops and cafes with volunteers- excess food is shared and can be picked up for free, rather than be wasted. OLIO’s co-founder Saasha Celestial-One admits her ‘parents installed a sense of eco-consciousness’ in her from a very early age. ‘Growing up in a modest background, my mom was very resourceful- nothing went to waste’. It’s a trait she’s passing onto her 6-year-old son, who is also one of the 100k active OLIO users a month. ‘He’d often help me upload surplus food items on the app’- a way to earn pocket money (mom pays 20p per listing) while saving the environment. Close to 1m OLIO users have so far shared over 1 367 777 portions of food since the app launched in 2016! Goals for the future? ‘I’d like to empower 1 billion people to think about sharing than throwing away food.’ Got a pack of 6 apples but only need 4? List the rest on OLIO- fight global warming, end food waste and meet your neighbour as he/she comes to pick up your excess groceries. Next stop for OLIO? Mexico!

NoWaste: helping to manage food shopping and storage

With the advancement of tech and the rapid information flow, we as consumers are more aware than ever of how our imperfect food habits affect the environment. Food waste generates about 8% of human greenhouse gas emissions! In developed countries, it is individuals, rather than businesses and supermarkets who are the biggest offenders. How can we plan better and store our food smarter? Meet NoWaste. The app which allows users to keep track of inventories and helps manage their food storage (through digital lists named ‘fridge’, ‘freezer’ and ‘pantry’). Record the products at your disposal by either manually inputting them through the built-in app library or by scanning their barcodes via the phone’s camera. With NoWaste, you can create dynamic shopping lists which reflect current existing food inventory and alert you of products that may need to be thrown away soon. The app encourages a more eco-conscious lifestyle and saves money too! In the UK alone around £4.4 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away by households each year.

Words: Tzvete Doncheva

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