This New App is Taking Restaurant Food Waste to the Web

restaurant food waste might be solved with this new app

We’ve been noticing a number of cool projects popping up with food waste reduction in mind, from supermarkets taking the initiative to sell ugly fruits and vegetables to a new system of food rescue by bike. And now there’s Too Good to Go, a new app developed by two 25-year-old British entrepreneurs seeking to reduce the problem of restaurant food waste.

Restaurants are responsible for approximately 15 percent of food that ends up in landfills, according to Jean Schwab, a senior waste division analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency; in 2012, a total of 35 million tons of food was wasted by restaurants alone.

Restaurant food waste is, of course, having devastating effects, not only on world hunger, but on the global carbon footprint.

“Because it rots so fast, basically it starts to generate methane really quickly,” Schwab told The Salt.

A 2014 study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 84.3 percent of unused food in American restaurant kitchens ends up getting tossed. That’s a lot of food that could be used elsewhere, especially considering that much of this is pre-consumer waste – things that never made it to the table but are still fully edible, including fresh bread that will go stale by the next day, chopped produce that went unused, and leftover soups and sauces.

The principle behind the Too Good to Go app is simple: restaurants can sell the food they were ultimately going to throw away at a steep discount, helping to reduce the amount of restaurant food waste and simultaneously allowing people to get a quality meal for next to nothing – somewhere between two and five dollars.

The team behind the app even provides restaurants with eco-friendly, recyclable packaging, so there’s no additional waste created by a restaurant having this takeaway option, and restaurants stand to make a bit of extra cash too.

The project ticks all the boxes for success, but the founders say they’ve yet to catch their white whale: chain stores.

“It is really hard to crack the big companies,” co-founder Chris Wilson told The Standard. “It is the bigger chains that have the large amounts of food waste, but it is hard to even speak to the right people there.”

While the app is currently only available in parts of the UK, it has seen quick success, with nearly 100 restaurants already signed up in London alone. It’s only a matter of time before this app makes it to the American market – though it may not be around forever, either here or across the pond.

“The idea is that restaurants stop producing the extra food so they don’t need to throw it away in the first place,” Wilson said. “So really we want to put ourselves out of business by stopping food waste.”

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Woman on smartphone image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.