Technology helping to avoid wasting the smallest crumb

  • 14 Nov
  • 2 min

The Big Apple is gearing up to reward food sector businesses that take steps to avoid wastage. The new technologies have a lot to offer in this field, underpinning the development of tools that provide effective, profitable solutions.

The impact waste has on global warming has been underestimated, according to a report commissioned by knowledge network and advocacy group Zero Waste Europe, which underlines that managing waste is a key factor in reducing our carbon footprint. With this in mind, smart cities are now using information and communication technology to address this issue in an ever more efficient way.

It still remains however to persuade local businesses and private individuals to get involved in supporting moves towards better overall waste management. The New York City authorities have decided to target businesses first. The Foundation for New York's Strongest, the official non-profit organisation linked to the NYC Department of Sanitation, has just announced the launch of a Microgrant programme for city businesses taking steps to address food waste in their operations. Local businesses that are taking action to prevent, recycle or recover their food waste have until 8 January to apply for a grant. The approaches for which the Foundation expects to receive grant applications include sorting machines, smartphone apps and other ICT tools for tracking waste, methods – incentives, penalties and training – of preventing waste, and partnerships between businesses and charity organisations to arrange food donations or better recycling or composting.

Meanwhile UK startup Winnow recently raised an additional $7.4 million in capital to further develop its smart kitchen technology designed to reduce kitchen waste. The firm’s Winnow Waste Monitor – a set of smart scales and accompanying tablet app – is aimed at commercial kitchens in the hospitality sector. It enables kitchen staff to log what food is thrown away. The data is then uploaded to the Cloud, analysed by Winnow’s algorithm and disseminated with a view to avoiding food waste in future. Winnow claims that food discarded by professional kitchens accounts for between 5 and 20% of all food purchased. So restaurants and other businesses have everything to gain by taking greater care to avoid wasting food, from both a cost and an environmental point of view.

By Sophia Qadiri