Proving that food waste is ripe for innovation: Two UK examples

Around one third of all food produced is wasted across the value chain. While much of that waste occurs at an even earlier stage, there are significant issues for supermarkets and restaurants disposing of large quantities of food that goes unsold. However, there’s no questioning the potential value of this ‘nutrient flow’ and numerous businesses are proving that fact. In this piece, we look at two UK-based examples in an app that sells unsold restaurant meals and a supermarket that only sells waste food from the country’s largest stores.

The UK’s first food waste supermarket

115,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by the UK’s largest supermarkets every year. Most of that food is edible and “The Real Junk Food Project” is setting out to prove just that after establishing its first warehouse in Leeds, which acts as a ‘food waste supermarket’. The initiative has partnerships with a number of large companies including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Ocado.

The project adheres strictly to environmental health guidelines, but is still able to sell food past the larger stores sell-by-dates. The Real Junk Food Project has cafes up and down the country, and the warehouse in Leeds is specifically targeted at impoverished people living in food poverty – people are not expected to formally pay beyond a donation of money or time.

Source: Look inside the UK’s first ‘food waste’ supermarket

Photo via Visualhunt
Photo via Visualhunt

Meet the app helping to cut food waste in London restaurants

210,000 tonnes of food is wasted annually by the UK’s restaurants, but that challenge is being exploited by a new app called Too Good To Go, which was launched in June, and has found success in re-selling restaurant meals that would otherwise be destined for the bin.

At the end of each working day, the app’s partner cafes, juice bars and restaurants list how many left-over meals they have and put out a price with no meals exceeding £3.80. Users select and pay for what they want using the app, collecting their meal, which is served in a biodegradable sugarcane box. A portion of the money goes back to the restaurant, while the app also takes a percentage for its running and business costs.

Source: Too Good To Go: the app helping London restaurants to cut food waste


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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]

1 Comment

  1. November 21, 2016 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    One obvious question is – if food can be sold past its “sell by date” and still be ok, why are supermarkets putting early sell by dates? This is a much bigger issue and has significant legal implications, but not one that cannot be addressed (me – I use the sniff and taste test for most of my food and usually can stretch milk about a week-10 days past the printed date)

    At some point, wasting food needs to be treated as a low level crime – no jail time, but fines should be imposed. Eliminating food waste upstream of the consumer is all about proper planning and technology – get the food quickly to the market, and stored properly. Once the consumer has it, then it is all about behavior – don’t buy a large fridge where half your food is hidden from view, and get in the habit of only buying as much as is required

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