Mobile App Saves A Lot Of Wasted Food
Over the past several years, Europe has taken some strides in its fight against wasted food. Over the world, over a third of all food produced ends up in landfills. That’s some 1.3 billion tonnes, or about $1 trillion. What’s more, besides the fact that so many go without, this rotting food adds to the overall methane gas in the atmosphere. And as many of us know, methane is over 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
We are now in a period in our development where we need to become more efficient than ever. To be fair, though, up until fairly recently, the way we lived our lives and the way we produced our energy didn’t really matter, so the waste that was left behind wasn’t a major concern. But in today’s world, when there are more people than ever, we really need to review our living standards. And because of this, people are becoming inventive with the technology at our disposal.
This comes in the form of a mobile app that helps both supermarkets as well as shoppers to both save some money and curb food waste. The mobile app called NoFoodWasted is now operating in the Netherlands. It also plans to expand into Germany, Belgium and the UK in the near future.
“It all started when I couldn’t buy a whole chicken that was discounted because it was near its ‘best before’ [spoilage] date,” said August de Vocht, the app’s developer.
The story is that de Vocht usually cooked a barbeque for him and his family every weekend. But since he promised his wife that he won’t cook one and because he didn’t know how to cook a whole chicken besides on the grill, he had to leave it behind in the store. This then got him thinking that if he knew about the offer in advance, he would have cleared it with his wife, and he would not have had to leave the chicken behind.
So, de Vocht decided not to live with a regret like that and actually do something about it. This is how he came up with the NoFoodWasted mobile app. The way it works is that people who have it on their phones can see when produce are coming close to their “best before” date, and are at a discount. Stores and supermarkets who are also involved with the app, list these produce so people can see them. It’s a win-win situation for everyone since the supermarkets have a higher chance of selling these produce instead of just throwing them away.
What’s more, the mobile app also notifies shoppers while they’re in the store, every time they pass by an item which is about to expire. Shopowners place some Bluetooth beacons on the aisles which hold these items. Since it’s launch in September 2014, the app has gathered some 20,000 eager shoppers and has expanded over some 175 supermarkets.
In total, the mobile app has saved some 1.5 million euros in terms of food. Each supermarket has somewhere between 1,800 and 2,500 euros per month. That’s about 25% of what they would have otherwise would have been forced to throw away.
“It feels like there’s a vibe out there where people are interested in improving their behavior on food waste,” de Vocht remarked. “But we know that it still can be difficult for them because you have to change the way you shop for groceries.”
De Vocht is also looking into ways of how to make his mobile app more appealing and inclusive. For starters, he was thinking about sending shoppers information about the relatable produce they previously bought. Like for example, if someone usually bought vegetables, they would be announced if fruits were available too. Similarly, he was thinking about including recipes with the discount items available on the market.
“Behavior change is the most difficult thing that we have to do,” he explained. “But our plan is to get people’s patterns to change without them realizing that it’s happening already.”