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Waste&Climate: spotlight on Winnow


SUEZ and MakeSense teamed up in 2014 to create the Future of Waste program, focused on alternative solutions for reducing, reusing and recycling waste. For COP21, Future of Waste is taking action and launching its first Waste&Climate Impact Program, which aims to build public understanding of the links between global warming and waste, while helping entrepreneurs to highlight their positive impacts on climate. Each week, open_resource gives Future of Waste its own slot to talk about an entrepreneur from the Waste&Climate program.

Crédit: Winnow

The challenge

Estimates show that ⅓ of all food goes to waste worldwide. According to WRAP , the Hospitality sector in the UK alone is responsible for 900,000 tons (2.5 billion pounds) of food waste, or about 6% of all food going to waste in the country. As 75% of this food waste is avoidable, this presents an opportunity to reduce costs and greenhouse gases.

So where does food waste occur in the hospitality industry? There are three main categories of food waste in hospitality: kitchen waste, overproduction, plate waste.

Firstly, kitchen waste occurs when the food is being prepared because of bad management of food stock or badly prepared food. Restaurants tend to suffer more from plate waste than kitchen waste, because a lot of the food is made “a la minute”, rather than in big batches. Secondly, overproduction occurs when the production of food doesn’t match customers’ demand. On the one hand, food businesses are not always able to forecast the demand. Think of canteens or, even worse, party catering. Other reasons are buffets, batch cooking, or mismatch between batch and customer numbers.

Thirdly, plate waste happens firstly because of portion size: most restaurant portions are designed for hungry guys. Customers are responsible too. They look for ‘value for money’. Think of ‘All you can eat’ buffets, where people take piles of food which they cannot finish. Here, customers don’t dare to ask for doggybags or restaurants don’t offer them.

Finally, there are restrictions on donating surplus food in hospitality. Once food has been served (on the plate or on a buffet), it cannot be donated anymore. On the contrary, food that has stayed in the kitchen can be donated. Many hospitality managers don’t know enough about these laws and, thus, refuse to donate any food.

The company: Winnow

London-based tech startup Winnow helps caterers, restaurants and hotels measure and manage their waste. Kitchen teams use their smart meter to automatically record waste and receive reports detailing where improvements can be made. Kitchens using Winnow see their waste reduced by half, increasing food margins by up to 6%. The hospitality sector traditionally survives on very thin margins, so this can represent a significant increase in profitability.

Winnow has now been deployed in over 200 kitchens in the UK and has recently expanded operations into Asia. Founder and CEO Marc Zornes says, “Food waste is a global problem costing the hospitality sector an estimated £53bn annually in the developed world alone. We have seen time and time again that using technology to measure waste delivers significant cost savings whilst also doing the right thing for the environment.”

Other solutions

Many other creative solutions exist to reduce food waste in the hospitality industry, says Joris Depouillon. He is the co-founder of FSE Network, which connects the social entrepreneurs that are helping prevent food waste. Joris explains, ‘What the Food, for instance, is an app developed by students in France. It enables students to choose what they are going to eat in their canteen the day after. Like that, the canteen can plan its quantities better.’

A second kind of solution can tackle food waste once it has occurred. Equo Evento (Italy) and Le Chainon Manquant (France) pick up food surplus from events and redistribute it to social organizations. Finally, there are organizations that enable customers to reduce food waste. Trop Bon Pour Gaspiller aims to give the doggy bag a new impetus in France. They distribute eco-boxes to restaurants and help customers identify which restaurants offer these boxes.

Clearly, these solutions are only the start of a food waste revolution. Food waste in the hospitality sector remains a major issue. Successful solutions need to be replicated, both by new start-ups and by corporations. Further innovations need to be developed.

To go further with Future of Waste

To go further, you can help encourage the emergence of these solutions by getting involved with Makesense and Future of Waste to resolve the challenges facing entrepreneurs or take part in the discussions about COP21 on the platform.

Written by:
Joris Depouillon – Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network
Will Nicholson – IntoFood

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