A solution in your pocket: Our top five apps tackling food waste

Pic: William Hook

All week we’ve been investigating  different ways to combat food waste, and now we’re looking to the future to see how technology can help.

Across the capital, there has been a significant increase in the number of apps aimed at salvaging perfectly good food that would be ordinarily be destined for the bin.

From publicising restaurants’ leftover food to redistributing to those in need, app entrepreneurs are providing inventive means of fighting food waste. Here are our top five favourites available in London.

1. Wise up on Waste – Free
The app was created by Unilever and is dedicated to helping commercial kitchens keep track of the waste they are producing. As well as monitoring how much waste is created by each meal, Wise Up On Waste also tells you how much money you would save by reducing your food waste by 20 per cent.

ELL’s verdict: 3/5 – Great for commercial kitchens but doesn’t really help the individual consumer.

2. Karma – Free
This is app is new to the scene in London, after only being launched in the capital in February this year – making it the 35th city to use the app. Karma publicises unsold food from restaurants, cafes and shops that would otherwise not have been eaten and gives it to a karma app user at a reduced price. It was originally launched in Sweden in 2016 and now has 250,000 users and thousands of businesses signed up.

There’s no fee to download or sign-up as they make money on food that would otherwise be discarded. Karma estimates that it gives partners the potential to increase yearly revenue by up to £30,000 from food that would have otherwise gone to waste. So far 50 London restaurants including Aubaine, Teas Spitalfields, Hummus Bros and Poptata in Boxpark Croydon are involved with the app.

ELL’s verdict: 4/5 – Still new and making ground, but an ambitious idea with great discounts for users.

3. FoodCloud – Free
This app is for supermarkets and farms to let charities know that they have food that would otherwise go to waste. FoodCloud has redistributed 20 million meals so far to charities in the UK and Ireland. The organisations can see the exact volume and type of food being offered, and arrange a pick-up time. This means that charities can save money on their food budgets and use this surplus food for breakfast clubs, homeless shelters and other community centres.

ELL’s verdict: 4/5 – A not-for-profit enterprise that’s doing great work to help those in need receive meals

4. Too Good to Go – Free
Similarly to Karma, Too Good to Go is an app dedicated to selling food from businesses which would otherwise throw it away. Since its launch in 2015, the app has been downloaded three million times, selling over 2.5 million meals at discounted prices.

Over 5000 stores have partnered with Too Good to Go including Chop’d, Queen Mary, University of London and Red Dragon on Mile End Road.

ELL’s verdict: 5/5 – Has great reach all over the city, especially to ELL boroughs which is always a plus.

5. Olio – Free
OLIO is probably what you would call the big guns of the food waste app scene. After a pilot in North London, the team at OLIO launched the app nationwide in 2016. Since then, the app has become worldwide and now, over 350,000 people have used the app and 500,000 items of food have been shared. OLIO says that 40 per cent of items on the app are requested within an hour of being publicised.

What’s unique about OLIO is that they also have a non-food section on the app where you can share household items as well – items that “a neighbour would gladly take” such as lightbulbs, toiletries, mugs and cleaning products.

ELL’s verdict: 5/5 – Praised throughout London by other food projects, OLIO had a lot to live up to but definitely succeeds.

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