Each year, an estimated one third of all food produced – about 1.3 billion tons worth around $1 trillion dollars – ends up rotting in the trash cans of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices.
The fact that substantial amounts of food are produced but not eaten by humans isn’t just morally wrong – it has substantial negative environmental, social and economic impacts. According to the UNEP, 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed. Reducing food waste at retail, food service, and household levels has the potential to unleash far-reaching benefits for both people and the planet.
In this post, we’re highlighting some of the social enterprises who are on the front lines of fighting food waste by driving more responsible production and consumption across supply chains, and who are part of our S-GRID accelerator program and broader global community. Continue reading to learn more about the innovative solutions developed by each, and how you can learn more and support their work!
Kilang ReRoot is a social impact project launched by a team of local zero waste enthusiasts aiming to understand food consumption & tackle food waste in Brunei. Kilang ReRoot tackles food waste through three pillars of sustainability: environmental (reducing food waste), social (by involving multiple sectors of the Bruneian economy), and economic (creating opportunities for local businesses through food upcycling projects). By focusing on efficient waste management along every part of the food cycle, Kilang ReRoot is able to recover waste that would otherwise have ended up in landfills and transform it into a resource.
Surplus Indonesia is a social enterprise with an innovative app that enables food retailers or farms to sell their overstock and imperfect products at a significant discount to customers who need it, rather than sending it to a landfill. 13 million tons of food are wasted each year in Indonesia alone, with most being contributed by hotels, restaurants, catering vendors, and supermarkets. With the Surplus Indonesia app, customers can consume their favorite foods at 50% off retail prices, while producers can gain additional income from safe, edible, surplus food that otherwise would have gone to waste.
Sibo is a social enterprise based in Costa Rica that creates innovations with purpose to solve the biggest pains of the food industry, like malnutrition, food waste, food scarcity, and sustainability. From food ingredients that can be used in the preparation of any kind of food, alternative and sustainable proteins, to sustainable packaging and biomaterials, Sibo looks for solutions in the places no one else does by using FoodTech and BioTech together.
Thanks to its passion for food waste and other un-common biomaterials such as insects, Sibo was recently selected by FoodTech500 as one of the top 500 companies making an impact at the intersection between food, technology and sustainability.
Worming Up is a social enterprise based in Malaysia that upcycles food waste into food. Worming Up works to increase awareness about food waste issues among Kuching communities, facilitate donations of surplus food to people experiencing food insecurity, and recycling food waste through composting and upcycling to produce high quality bio-proteins.
In Peru, each person generates more than 300kg of waste per year. 70% of that is potentially reusable, yet less than 5% is actually recovered. Sinba is a certified B-Corporation on a mission to change that. Its educational initiative, The Sinba School, seeks to promote behavioral change through awareness and collective action. Sinba also operates waste collection and use services designed for homes and businesses that can help them economically and sustainably re-use 90% of their organic waste.
Entocycle is a UK-based social enterprise solving two problems at once: reducing food waste, while making our agricultural supply chains more sustainable. Entocycle works to restore the natural world by revolutionizing the way we feed animals. Our current method of producing food to feed animals is inefficient and ecologically costly. But insects — a natural part of many animals’ diets — have a far smaller ecological footprint. Entocycle takes local food waste — rejected supermarket fruit and vegetables, brewer’s grains and coffee grounds — and feeds it to its insects, which eat the waste and convert it to protein that can be used in animal feed.
EcoZen is an India-based social enterprise that was started with a vision to disrupt the way perishables are handled across the value chain using clean and innovative technology. This is made possible through better irrigation solutions, managing produce, and also connecting farmers with suitable markets. To prevent perishable food from going bad and turning into waste before it can reach end consumers, EcoZen offers its own suite of cold storage solutions that use solar power to to keep perishables cooler for longer, ensuring longer shelf life, less waste, and more profits for farmers.
OLIO is a UK-based social enterprise that connects neighbors with each other and local businesses so that surplus food can be shared, rather than thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. OLIO can also be used for non-food household items. It’s simple app makes sharing your food, or browsing available listings near you, easy to do from your smartphone with a few clicks.
In Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, more than 35 million tons of fruits and veggies are produced each year. Yet, according to Nigerian social enterprise ColdHubs, 45% of this food spoils due to inadequate storage methods. Globally, post-harvest losses of fresh fruits and vegetables affect 470 million farmers and retailers in other developing nations. The bottom line: Small farmers may lose as much as 25% of their annual income due to spoilage. To combat that, Coldhubs has developed a “plug and play” modular, solar-powered walk-in cold room, for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods. This solution not only reduces food waste in developing countries, but also increases local farmer income, reduces malnutrition, and creates local jobs.
Roughly 31% of wasted food comes from consumers and retailers who waste food simply by buying too much and throwing it out. Shelf Engine is a Seattle-based social enterprise on a mission to reduce food waste through automation. Its app incorporates artificial intelligence to considerably improve perishable food forecasting, transforming the food supply chain by helping grocery stores reduce waste and increase sales through intelligent forecasting.
Does your organization have an innovative social or environmental solution that you are trying to scale? Apply to SGRID for help building connections to corporations looking to find sustainable partners for their supply chains.