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VivaTech 2024: Tech companies and start-ups present AI solutions to tackle food and water waste

Julie Johansen from Too Good To Go
Julie Johansen from Too Good To Go Copyright Cyril Fourneris/Euronews
Copyright Cyril Fourneris/Euronews
By Cyril Fourneris
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While impact entrepreneurship was one of the main focuses at VivaTech in Paris, measuring environmental impact will be a challenge for Green Tech, experts say.

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The anti-waste marketplace Too Good To Go, which allows 95 million international users to enjoy unsold food at bargain prices, presented a new solution at VivaTech based on artificial intelligence (AI) designed to help grocery retailers avoid food waste.

"There are high volumes of food which carry a lot of data. Prices, consumption patterns, location, seasonality...We process that data in order to make sure that the food is at the right point, at the right price, at the right time, to make sure it's sold," Julie Johansen, Too Good to Go's chief commercial officer, told Euronews Next.

The Denmark-based company claims a "win-win-win" approach: money for the user, profit for the company, and benefit for the planet.

A UN Environment Programme report found earlier this year that households wasted over 1 billion meals a day in 2022 globally.

"We're increasingly becoming an AI and tech company. We look at dynamic pricing and analyse consumer data more and more, so that our parcels are more relevant for the consumers," she added.

Too Good to Go has around 160,000 partners supplying food to consumers in 17 countries in Europe and North America, and will arrive in Australia soon.

Heavily financed but risk of greenwashing

Climate and Green Tech are among the most heavily financed systems at the moment, according to Adrien Chaltiel, co-founder of Eldorado, a French innovation financing platform.

"We know that we need new types of businesses that are not based on hyper-growth, with criteria that we don't really know yet. This will create new jobs and attract other kinds of talents," Chaltiel said.

While many companies at VivaTech are presenting solutions for reducing their carbon emissions or promoting biodiversity, there is still a high risk of greenwashing.

"One of the challenges for the Green Tech sector as it matures will be to standardise the measurement of its environmental impact," said Chaltiel.

"This is much more complicated than finance, which is based on numbers".

Other start-ups seeking green solutions

Tenchijin, a start-up specialising in AI processing of satellite data, has set itself the mission of preventing not food waste, but water waste.

Using space imagery, the company analyses the environment around water pipes, such as humidity, temperature, and the state of the earth. It also compiles information on pipes and the history of leaks.

Deep learning techniques enable Tenchijin to assess the condition of water pipes. It claims that its Japanese customers, mainly cities, have significantly reduced inspection costs.

"If we have less loss, we also reduce our need for drinking water," said Yuhei Urabe, Global Business Development Manager at Tenchijin.

In France, water loss in pipes averages 20 per cent, according to Urabe.

This year, the major French energy company EDF is sponsoring a 1,500 square metre space called 'Impact Bridge', that brings together start-ups and NGOs that provide environmental solutions.

In this large hall is Bioteos, which manufactures micro-algae-based air purifiers for use in cafeterias and metro stations.

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"The algae feed on volatile organic compounds to grow and store fine particles. They also help to limit CO2 peaks. The air comes out of the machine completely depolluted,” said Jamil Benabbou, mechanical manager at Bioteos.

Bioteos, which has just raised its first round of funding after three years of research and development, is now offering its solutions in the Lille region and intends to offer its machines throughout France.

'Bringing benefit to everyone, everywhere'

Some major companies were also promoting green tech at VivaTech. The French branch of Chinese tech giant Huawei France is promoting environmental protection through its TECH4ALL initiative, which brings together tech projects in favour of mankind and biodiversity.

TECH4ALL: Huawei's sustainable vision at VivaTech 2024

"We are feeling that our responsibility is not only to make a benefit, but also to bring this benefit to everyone, everywhere," said Minggang Zhang, deputy managing director of Huawei France.

In Norway, Huawei has teamed up with a partner to protect wild salmon, whose population has been halved due to the proliferation of an invasive species, the Pacific salmon.

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An underwater camera equipped with recognition technology can identify the invasive species and divert it by means of a mechanical barrier towards a fish tank, preventing it from swimming upstream to reproduce.

Other projects involve protecting cetaceans in the Irish Sea and coral reefs in Mauritius.

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