Top 4 Innovations to Reduce Food Waste

The Lempert Report
July 16, 2015

Making a difference with these innovations

We talk a lot about food waste, and we’ve all heard the devastating numbers on how much America sends to the landfills. But while it seems we may be struggling to find a solution, a renewed energy and focus on the problem has meant a flurry of innovative ideas.  Check out a few of these innovative initiatives, that will help every one of us make a difference! 

Food For Free
Launched just last year, Massachusetts’ local program “Food For Free” has what they call a “prepared food rescue program” which collects and distributes prepared food from institutions and universities. The program specifically deals with the problem of expiring frozen foods, and the company has the capacity to store up to 4,000 frozen meals and an additional 6,000 meals in its cooler for defrosting until a partnering organization, shelter or meal program can receive the food. For now, they collect prepared food from Harvard University (about 2,500 pounds weekly), MIT (40 to 100 pounds weekly) and Whole Foods Market (about 1,000 to 2,000 pounds weekly). 

Food waste cafes
Ok, you may have to travel across the pond to make use of this one, and it’s certainly not an idea for everyone, but check out this pay-what-you-can restaurant that recovers all its food from the trash!  Dumpster Diving is a trend here in the US too, but this is taking it a step further. The business in Bristol, England, rescues all its food from supermarkets and other businesses.  Food is served on donations or 'Pay As You Feel' basis, which makes meals at the cafe accessible to everyone. The team is spreading its message fast with its Real Junk Food #skiptour.

Spoiler Alert
And a new one from the tech world. Spoiler Alert! A recent new App from MIT Sloan graduates Emily Malina and Ricky Ashenfelter, this innovative idea connects retailers, producers, and supplies to nearby non-profits for donation or, in the case of products that are no longer edible, companies that make fertilizer and animal feed. Notifications are sent out as soon as new inventory is listed and all transactions are recorded in the app, which makes it easier for donors to prepare tax deductions.

And finally, check out, WISErg.  This startup, which recently raised $11 milllion dollars in funding, collects waste and turns it into fertilizer. They have developed a way to convert all of the food waste into liquid-based, organic, high-nitrogen fertilizer, which it can then sell to farmers. But they don’t stop there… they also then analyze information about a clients’, (say a supermarkets’) procedures in order to help reduce the amount of food that is dumped.  For example, the Wall Street journal notes that they found one of their clients had an employee that raised the temperature in the produce aisle by 4 degrees fahrenheit to save energy, but ended up wasting money as more food spoiled. Currently in Washington State, WISErg plans to expand and create more hubs that will sell fertilizer to local farmers. The company plans to create hubs near San Francisco, as well as other West Coast and some East Coast locations.
Innovations like these ensure that every one of us can make a little bit of difference