As we’ve noted many, many times before, we waste an awful lot of food: in fact, it’s the biggest component of the US’ solid waste stream. As we’ve also noted many, many times before, challenges like these inspire creative thinking. This past Sunday, PBS Newshour dug into the stories of people who’ve found inspiration in those trash cans and landfills full of rotting food, and the solutions they’ve created to make more sustainable use of this important resource:
Food Waste-Inspired Businesses and Organizational Programs
If you didn’t jot down the names of the companies and initiatives mentioned in the video, we’ve got them here for you… along with a few others we’ve come across over the years.
- Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s Green Kitchen initiative: More information on Barbara Hartman’s effort to reduce waste in the Center’s kitchen… which turned out to be a huge money-saver!
- LeanPath Automated Food Waste Prevention Tracking System: The company that helped Hartman measure her organization’s food waste, and thus manage it.
- NRDC: The environmental organization that’s done as much as any to put food waste on the environmental agenda.
- Food Cowboy: A mobile application that helps match up large amounts of food that could go to waste with the organizations that can make sure it gets eaten.
- Crop Mobster: Another technology resource, Crop Mobster uses “crowd power” to help bring food producers with excess together with the people and organizations that can make use of it.
- Daily Table: A new store concept put together by the former president of Trader Joe’s. Daily Table will sell food that’s passed “sell by” and “use by” dates (which are largely meaningless).
- Cam Tabb’s composting operation: I can’t find a web page for it, but West Virginia farmer Cam Tabb has been offering composting services for over 20 years now… and has gotten lots of press for his efforts to diversify his revenue stream.
And a few others…
- Waste Farmers: Started by good buddy John Paul Maxfield, this Denver-based company’s mission involves not just waste food, but also “solutions inspired by natural systems, human potential, and intuitive imagination with the intention of enhancing the biosphere, local communities, and one’s authentic life.”
- Ecoscraps: A Utah-based company collecting food waste, and turning it into “organic soils and compost.”
- Rubies in the Rubble: A UK-based company that makes jams and chutneys from produce that would be otherwise discarded.
- Back to the Roots: What can you do with old coffee grounds? How about grow mushrooms?
Know of another company or non-profit initiative doing creative things with food that would otherwise go to waste? Tell us about it…
The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. We should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration on supermarket shelves causes waste.
The consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior might be one of the weakest links of the fresh food supply chain.
Why not encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill?
The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables automatic applications that offer dynamic incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates.
The “End Grocery Waste” application, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste site.
I’ll take a look at the app, Rod – thanks for sharing!
Great article! Food Shift is another organization in the Bay Area working to feed people instead of landfills. In 2013, they saved 20,000 pounds of food from the landfill. They also work with businesses and schools to collect excess food and redistribute it to those in need. They are currently working on a petition encouraging EPA administrators to swiftly launch a food waste strategy (more info here: http://chn.ge/1gHJUoX) Check out their website: http://www.foodshift.net and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook & Twitter to keep up on the latest news!
I will check it out, Andrea – thanks for sharing!