These 5 entrepreneurs want to eliminate global food waste

Picture: PIXABAY

Many men and women know that international appetite is a pressing problem — but what you might not know is that food waste is equally concerning.  

This doesn’t seem to create sense: How can it be that so many go hungry when there’s so much useable food heading into landfills? If you think the dilemma of food waste is counterintuitive, you’re not alone. The UN’s Sustainable Development Aims outline a set of aims to tackle international issues including hunger and food waste, amongst others.  

There are a variety of entrepreneurs who realize that food waste is an unacceptable problem in our modern world — and they are doing their part to bring the UN’s SDGs like zero appetite, sustainable agriculture practices, and sustainable consumption and production to fruition. Below are five individuals who are making a critical effect on every level of their food waste chain — from agriculture and farming into retail and supermarkets, all the way down to the individual consumer.

Tristram Stuart, founder of Feedback

Campaigning to improve every link of the “food waste” series.

When Tristram Stuart was only a teenager, he detected a problem that a number of us have likely observed at one point or another: Supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries, and grocers throwing away bins full of perfectly usable food.

“We had been wasting food at each connection in the whole series,” Stuart says at a video detailing his philosophy supporting Feedback, the firm he started in 2009 to cover the problem of food waste. Feedback organizes action and awareness campaigns (in addition to events) that target food waste from — literally — the ground up. From working with governments and global institutions to educating businesses and rallying grassroots organizations and the general public, the team intends to be a catalyst for shifting global attitudes about food waste.

Stuart has committed his career to the problem; while researching for his book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, he realized how a lot of the meals waste problems confronting supermarkets have been tied up in purchasing policies and cosmetic criteria — and sometimes, even stemming from obscure governmental regulations. He set Feedback to fight these coverages on a systemic level.

Feedback’s first consciousness event took place in London’s Trafalgar Square at December 2009 and fed 5,000 people — and the subsequent media coverage was a catalyst for the UK authorities to change a number of its policies about food waste. Now, Feedback has hosted similar events in 45 cities, and has had substantial global effect along how the world views squander.

Tristram Stuart is part of the UBS Global Visionary program. Read more about his narrative and find out about other young entrepreneurs creating an impact around the world.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonuu, founder of ColdHubs 

Mitigating post-harvest declines for farmers in developing nations.

In Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, more than 35 million tons of veggies and fruits have been generated each year. However, according to startup ColdHubs, 45% of the food spoils as a result of insufficient storage methods. And beyond this region of earth, post-harvest declines of fresh vegetables and fruits influence 470 million farmers and retailers in other developing nations. The bottom line: Small farmers may lose up to 25% of the annual income due to spoilage.

Input Nnaemeka Ikegwuonuu, a Nigerian agriculturist. His start up is a social venture which produces modular, walk in chilly rooms which prolong the shelf life of perishable foods — and not only by hours or days, but by months. The rooms have been fueled by solar panels and high-capacity batteries, making them an eco-conscious alternative for mobile refrigeration.  

Picture: Nnaemeka Ikegwuonuu

The company designs, builds, installs, and commissions these rooms, which farmers buy on a pay-as-you-store subscription model. Ikegwuonuu has long lasting aims for ColdHubs: He also intends to have 1,000 units operating in the subsequent five decades.

Tessa Cook, creator of OLIO

Addressing food waste on the customer level.

While food waste on a mass scale often happens on the outside lines of consumerism (places like grocery stores and supermarkets) or in an agricultural degree, in the developed world, almost half of all food waste takes place in the home. Entrepreneur Tessa Cook desired to do something to cut down the £13 billion worth of meals the UK collectively yells out annually.

“It’s mad that our solution to too much great food is to throw it away, which there’s been no innovation because the garbage bin,” says Cook.  

To combat this problem, Cook and co-founder Saasha Celestial-One started OLIO, a free program that connects neighbors with local stores and cafes so that excess food can be repurposed. The program (accessible for both Android and iPhone) is easy to use: Simply snap a photo of items you would like to discard, and neighbors get alerts and can request whatever piques their interest. Pickup is organized via personal message.

There are a number of use cases for your program, Cook explains: Like when families go on a diet, proceed home, leave for vacation, over-cater a celebration, or get unwanted presents. (Finally, something to do with all these holiday fruit cakes.)  

“Demand for excess food is incredibly large, with 40% of listings requested in under an hour, and 86 percent of listings requested in under 24 hours,” Cook says. The program, which launched in the UK in January 2016 and globally in October 2016, has significantly improved over 225,000 users up to now.

“So many go hungry and the environmental consequences are nothing short of devastating,” says Cook. “OLIO intends to earn food sharing a workable option to the bin, and to do this in a means that is easy, convenient, and fun.”

Amanda Weeks, cofounder of Industrial/Organic

Putting food waste to good use.

So, what about food waste that is on its way into the landfill? Amanda Weeks is an entrepreneur handling the problem from another angle: Utilizing waste as a resource.  

Picture: amanda weeks

Industrial/Organic, Weeks’ Brooklyn-based startup tackling food recycling in metropolitan locations, finds means to put the energy, energy, and nutrition of food waste to do the job. Through a multi-step recovery procedure (technically termed “anaerobic fermentation”), the company intends to up-cycle waste to bio-based products such as household cleansers, fragrances, and natural fertilizer. It goes beyond composting; the procedure creates no methane, and produces fewer emissions and odors than other solutions.

“Our strategy closes several crucial loops essential to encourage public health, environmental resilience, and economic growth,” clarifies the Industrial/Organic site. “We reclaim the funds spent on food that is wasted, and reuse them to produce a more sustainable system for future generations.”

Keiran Whitaker, founder of Entocycle

Coming full circle: Up-cycling waste for agriculture.

Keiran Olivares Whitaker‘s firm, Entocycle, takes another innovative way of food waste recycling — harnessing the power of character.

“We’re using character to fight on two fronts: Tackling both the food waste we produce, as well as the unsustainability of the protein farming industry,” explains Whitaker.

Entocycle transforms food waste to renewable, protein-based feed for the agriculture industry — all with the ability of insects. The company is developing the first fully automated “smart factory” that produces insect protein.

Picture: keiran whitaker

“Insects are nature’s recyclers, and a pure food for creatures,” Whitaker describes. Entocycle’s darlings are black soldier flies, which transform food crap — items like spent beer grains, potato peelings, and fruit and vegetable waste —  to workable animal feed pellets. The system uses vertical farming, so it’s in a position to produce large volumes of product in very tiny spaces. The entire up-cycling procedure takes less than a week.

Entocycle’s facility is presently up and running in the center of London. In collaboration with the fantastic Kitchen accelerator program, Entocycle intends to reevaluate the $150 billion animal feed industry, finally replacing environmentally damaging solutions like soy and fish meal.

Partnership for the aims: Reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

UBS White Paper

This newspaper for the WEF Annual Meeting investigates our progress in fulfilling our commitment to the UN SDGs, in particular our pledge to increase USD 5bn of customer money within five years to fund the SDGs. We unveil over 30 partnerships which UBS has forged together with private and public organizations to encourage positive social and environmental change.

Want to find out more about how to encourage organizations like people profiled here? Discover more about effect investing or read about these other social entrepreneurs tackling international issues in innovative ways.

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