Food waste. Too Good To Go is a new start-up that is focused on the single goal of raising awareness of (and reducing) food waste in the UK. Their app allows people to order delicious meals that are left over at the end of a shift and collect them directly from restaurants for as little as £2 per meal.
WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY?
Do you know how much bread we throw away in the UK? Neither did we until Jamie and Chris told us that a staggering 24 millions slices of bread are wasted every day. Food waste is such a big problem that if we actually ate all the food we produced instead of dumping it in landfill sites, it would have the same effect as taking one in every four cars off the road. In 2015 alone we spent £19 billion on food waste – £10.5 billion more than the Police budget.
If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouses gasses after the US and China. For every person on the planet we produce 4,500 calories a day, nearly double what each person needs, yet we still have one billion people going to bed hungry. So why are we not hearing about this in the mainstream media? Too Good To Go wants to place value back on food as something that should be eaten rather than thrown away.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING ABOUT IT?
As a self-sustaining social enterprise, Too Good To Go is one of a growing number of companies that also have a purpose to make the world a better place. In their case, the aim is to raise awareness of food waste and directly involve the consumer in a field that has previously been dominated by charities. When most people see food being thrown away the gut reaction is one of shock. Now, the Too Good To Go app allows us to stop it.
The idea is simple. The app is essentially a platform that allows restaurants to sell their waste food, thereby recouping some of their costs. To put this in perspective, the restaurant industry in Europe throws away 600,000 tonnes of food every day – this isn’t stuff that’s past its sell-by date, it’s tasty food that has been prepared that day and would otherwise go to waste. If you think that charities already redistribute this surplus food, think again.
In fact, only 0.2% of wasted food is redistributed as surplus – and some of this even stays within the restaurant itself. It’s simply not enough to make a difference. Too Good To Go uses the GPS locator on a smartphone to find the restaurants that have excess food and let people order directly from them. Everything on the menu is priced between £2–£3.99 and is available to collect within a specific time slot from the restaurant. Just like a takeaway.
However, Too Good To Go is not advertised as ‘cheap food’. As well as protecting the reputation of the restaurant brands, they also want customers to be aware that this food is great – just like what you would be served in the restaurant – but would otherwise have gone to waste. For this reason, there’s usually no choice over what you are served. You simply make the purchase, turn up with your receipt, and take your meal away in a sustainable carton.
The restaurants have complete control in real time over how many portions are available and the collection times. Some restaurants, such as busy pizzerias, often pre-prepare portions for speed and convenience and anticipate throwing away a dozen portions every day. The app allows them to recover the fixed cost involved in preparing the food. It’s not an additional revenue stream. The idea is that food is better in the belly than in the bin.
So, how’s it going? It turns out many restaurant managers are concerned about their bottom line and welcome the chance to integrate sustainability into their core in a convenient way – especially independent businesses who may not have a CSR policy in place. By signing up, they can minimise food waste (which usually costs around 99p per portion), benefit from the publicity of being on the app and feel good about doing the right thing.
NEXT STEPS …
In the two months since they launched, Too Good To Go has signed up over 100 partners in London, had 70,000 downloads and have rescued over 4,000 meals from landfill. They received 100,000 websites hits last month and people are really getting behind the movement. The service is currently available in London, Birmingham, Brighton and Leeds, with plans to roll out to Manchester and another ten cities by the end of 2016.
Rip It Up, Start Again
Lulu Laidlaw-Smith presents Rip It Up, Start Again - a series of events showcasing the best innovative start-ups.