What’s trending now?
The food waste reduction movement.
This is firstly achieved with the growing awareness of mass food waste along with its social economic and environmental impact. The United Nations has recorded that 1.3 billion tons of food, including of fruit, vegetables, and seafood is lost and wasted annually. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion by 2025. Food waste currently tallies to about four times the amount of food that is needed to feed an estimated 800 million undernourished people.
The global political instability, social economic challenges faced by the shrinking middle class, and the increase in immigrants has brought to question the sustainability of resources and increase in wasted goods. Organisations and governments are looking at ways to reduce local and regional waste while getting consumers to consider food that is thrown away and disregarded.
Why is it important?
Companies are expanding on their purpose and consideration of how they deal with the waste they produce. The director at the UK advocacy group WRAP, Marcus Goves, highlighted that the concept of recycling is changing. He believes that by 2025 waste disposers won’t be burying people’s rubbish as it’s done today. Instead, companies will merge with the reprocessing industry.
The increased cost of living, scarcity of resources, and rising prices of raw materials sees consumers and businesses both making conscious efforts to reduce waste. Companies are investing in food waste reduction through quantifying, monitoring food loss, training staff, changing their food storage, and handling process.
Swedish company Ikea aims to reduce half of its food waste by 2020 through its Food is Precious campaign. With a smart scale solution the food is measured and reported to Ikea’s restaurants, bistros,and Swedish food markets. The data is used to identify ways to reduce further food waste. Thus far, 84 Ikea stores have reduced a total of 79.2kg of food waste.
The European Commission has set a goal to cut food waste by 30% by 2025. France has banned supermarkets from throwing away or spoiling unsold food. France along with Italy has created fair regulations that make it easier for companies to donate food to charities.
South Korea monitors resident’s wasteful habits with smart bins. Residents have cards with a chip which has their personal details recorded. To use the bins, one must scan their ID card. The built-in scale records the waste and residents are billed accordingly. Bin-e is a smart bin fit for office spaces in Poland. The bin separates recyclable material on site with additional data linked to one’s cell phone.
What’s the butterfly effect?
The attempts of living consciously, with efforts to reduce waste, has seen an upsurge of social environmental movements. Freeganism started out as an anti-consumerist movement and has since evolved into the boycott of economic systems where profit overrides ethical consideration. A pure freeganist meets their standard of living without the use of money. This is achieved by living off goods and food that would have been thrown away. Apps such as Freegan Pick connect freegans to products they need.
Start-ups and legacy companies are broadening the possibilities of food’s timeline from business to consumer to landfill. As a result, additional sectors within the food industry.
Ugly foods are pretty too
In 2016, Walmart announced it would be selling brands dedicated to ugly fruits and vegetables at discounted prices. Imperfect is a brand of apples available in their Florida stores and Wonky vegetables are a box of in season vegetables sold in their UK stores. Supermarkets such as Giant Eagle grocery and French chain Intermarche have also pushed out campaigns and additional in store brands that sell ugly fruits and vegetables at discounted prices.
Secondary online markets
Apps such as Cerplus , Souper seconds and Full harvest allow for farmers to sell aesthetically- imperfect fruits and vegetables online. On-demand delivery is also available through Imperfect Produce and Hungry Harvest with items being delivered to one’s door.
Recycling edible food scraps
Brooklyn restaurant 21 Green point offers special supper every Sunday. Diners receive 5-8 surprise courses made from left over ingredients from the week. Chef Dan Barber has created a pop up restaurant Wasted pop up , which serves traditional British cuisine made of foods which has been discarded. Companies such as New Foods and Salt n’ Straw use foods which would have been thrown away to create new products. New Foods use wasted foods such as orange peels to make supplements. While Salt n’ Straw have created ice cream flavours from foods which would have been discarded.
Food last longer
Apeel aims to make obsolete the gas, wax and other trick growers to keep vegetables and fruits fresh for longer. The company has developed a method for creating imperceptible, edible barriers that can extend the freshness of greens like beans five times longer. Although, it has not yet been fully commercially tested, Apeel is currently been used to extend the life of cassava in Nigeria.
Blu Wrap device uses sensors and cells to maintain temperatures in refrigerated shipping containers. The device enables up to 40 days shelf life of fresh fish and meat.
Pioneers and global hotspots
The race to be the first waste free nation has seen governments take the lead in the implementations of laws and regulations to assist citizens in the consideration of food waste.
The UAE aims to cut the annual food loss of 1.3 billion, to become the first region to achieve zero food waste with Dubai taking the lead.
Vermont has been passing laws to reduce food waste since 2012. Act 148 stated that all households will be required to separate recyclable material and food scraps by 2020. The law will also ban certain renewable material in landfills. Companies that produce 52 tonnes of food scraps annually are now required to send food waste to composting facilities.
Denmark has reduced its food waste by 25% over the last 5 years. We Food supermarket is the country’s’ first food waste supermarket that sells surplus produce. The food is 30% – 50% cheaper than standard super markets.
The idea of sustainable farming sees the pioneering concept of closed loop farming. Environmental research engineer Dr Eunsung Kan runs a closed loop dairy farm. The farm uses waste water and emits zero waste as it powers itself on manure.
Kenyan company Sanenergy converts waste from urban slums into products like fertilizer and animal feed. While smart carpet, Rise uses human waste to rejuvenate infertile soil in and around refugee camps to grow crops.
By: Khumo Theko
Khumo is our in house Research and Operations Assistant. She aims to unpack the influential cultural layers that make the African continent tick. While joining the dots that lead to innovative creations and solutions that are shaping the way we live and interact.
Image credit: Khumo Theko and MSNBC