Waste not, want not
The modern American has evolved into an incredibly wasteful creature. “The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s,” the National Resources Defense Council explains. Approximately “40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. The problem is hardly limited to the U.S. Some 100 million tons of food is wasted annually in the EU, and if nothing is done it’s expected the amount of food waste there will hit 126 million tons each year by 2020. But with all of this waste comes great potential for increasing efficiencies and repurposing food that too often winds up in the trash heap. Here are a handful of interesting campaigns, strategies, and entrepreneurial ventures aimed at cutting food waste, sometimes dramatically so:
Bans on Food Dumping
A recently passed law in France will make it illegal for supermarkets to throw away food that is still edible.
Independent Supermarket Initiatives
Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in England and one of the biggest in the world, is launching a pilot program at 10 stores in the UK that will distribute 30,000 tons of perishable food annually to registered charities.
Food Rescue Programs
Food for Free, based in Cambridge, Mass., rescues and redistributes food from restaurants and supermarkets that otherwise would be thrown out, gathering untouched cooked food from Harvard and from MIT every week. In New York City, City Harvest rescues food from restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, manufacturers, and such that would have otherwise been wasted and delivers them for free to soup kitchens and shelters.
Celebrity Chef Experiments
Blue Hill, the swanky Manhattan restaurant run by renowned chef Dan Barber, welcomed more than 20 celebrated guest chefs to participate in wastED. The two-week experiment featured dishes with edible ingredients that are usually wasted and such—and each exquisitely prepared plate cost a total of just $15.
Food Waste Startups
Entrepreneurs have been busy trying to cook up startup businesses that make use of food waste not only because it’s a way to help the environment and the hungry poor, but because considering how much food (and money) is wasted regularly, there’s potential for big profits.