What do you do with the inevitable leftovers from the latest barbecue party, or fruit that goes off in no time in summer? As everyone knows: the amount of food you think you need is rarely the same as you actually consume. But just because something is left over, should it be thrown away? Emphatically, no! Most leftovers are too good for the garbage.
May 2 marks Food Waste Day. A day that is meant to make us aware of how much edible food ends up in the trash. According to the European Parliament, an estimated 88 million tons of food is wasted in the EU every year, the equivalent of 173 kilograms per person.
Two years ago, I wrote a paper on the subject of food waste and investigated the extent to which valorization measures can be a route to recycling food waste.
I want to revisit this topic once again, as it has by no means lost its impact—on the contrary: there are many innovative and exciting approaches to avoid food waste in the future. I’m going to dive deeper into ‘Edipeel’, a new type of coating for fruit and vegetables, and ‘Too good to go’, an app for salvaging food.
Let’s take a look together at how we can minimize food waste:
Edipeel is an innovative coating which prolongs the shelf life of food. The start-up Apeel pursues the novel idea of sealing fruit and vegetables with a liquid layer instead of wrapping them in plastic. This layer, named Edipeel, is edible, invisible and flavorless—you can’t sense it, so you won’t consciously perceive it.
James Rogers, a scientist and materials researcher, founded Apeel. The company mainly uses plant waste, such as tomato skins, fruit stalks or seeds, for the coating process. The aim is therefore to use left-over food to make other foods last up to three times longer—a totally win-win situation. Coating requirements vary depending on the type of fruit and vegetables, so the coating is tailored to the type of food and is used as a spray. Farmers buy a powder from Apeel, which they mix with water after harvesting and spray on the fruit or vegetables. The coating creates a barrier that controls how much water and carbon dioxide can escape from the fruit and how much oxygen can enter from the outside. These are the two main factors influencing rapid spoilage, meaning the microclimate within the fruit is improved, from harvest to the fridge.
Too good to go is a mobile app that enables businesses to sell their surplus products for self-collection. The app offers businesses such as bakeries, restaurants, cafés, hotels or supermarkets the potential to reduce food losses while generating revenues and attracting new customers. This is not all: it reduces CO2 emissions, protects the environment and minimizes costs for the end user.
App users can see which companies in their immediate vicinity are listed in the partner network. They can then order and pay online directly via the app. App users come to the partner company during a pre-determined time slot and receive their “surprise package”. Depending on the season and daily business, this may consist of surplus food resulting from overproduction (for example: leftovers from a supermarket, fresh food counter, the bakery display or a hotel buffet). A win-win situation for all involved: good and fresh food for the buyers, less waste at the locations and resource conservation for the environment.
Digital technologies create many opportunities to jointly counteract food waste. Technologies that optimize resource planning are now commonplace. Simple, self-created apps like power apps or modern technologies like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) contribute significantly to implementing innovative ideas. At COSMO CONSULT, we are your strategic partner on the path to a successful, sustainable and digital future. Do you have a host of digital ideas in your company, but have struggled to find the right partner to implement these? Then get in touch with our industry experts.