In a world
where our lives are going faster and faster, it often happens that we turn a
blind eye to the vast amounts of food waste we produce daily. Given that we
have already taken advantage of technology and smart systems to hold the most
advanced phone in our hands and watch a movie on TV in the best resolution, we
can also bring technological progress to the food waste management system.
It will be
best to review some statistics, which can be tedious, but without it, we have
no sense of how big the problem of food waste is.
to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), roughly
one-third of all food produced is discarded. It’s like making three pizzas for
dinner and throwing one of them in the trash right away.
throw away food, we waste all the resources that have been used to produce,
transport and store it, such as land, water and fuel. Apart from the fact that this food
is lost, although it could feed many people, it also contributes to more
significant pollution of the environment. Food wastage is responsible for eight
to ten per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other
country in the world, except for the United States and China.
The United Nations Environment Programme report shows that around 931 million tonnes of food waste were generated in 2019, 61 per cent of which came from households, 26 per cent from foodservice and 13 per cent from retail.
In 2016, the organisers of the EU FUSIONS project (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) found that we produce around 88 million tonnes of food waste per year in the European Union, which means 173 kilograms of food per capita. Given that we produce 865 kilograms of food per capita in the European Union, we throw away about 20 per cent of all food produced.
almost impossible to prevent food waste altogether. It isn’t easy to entirely equate
food production with food consumption, and there will always be parts that are
not edible for human consumption.
can at least reduce food waste with optimisation and technology, making sure
that the rest is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Here are some
of the innovations we can use to achieve this.
containers and composters
We can use the full potential of smart technology and the Internet of Things primarily by analysing and processing as much data as possible, which we must, of course, obtain beforehand. Artificial intelligence can help by detecting which types of food are thrown away and how often. This data can then be used for a whole bunch of optimisations.
company has thus developed a modern solution called KITRO. It is a small device
placed above the container in which we usually throw our food waste. It is
intended primarily for restaurants and hotels, where vast amounts of food is
KITRO do? Each time a piece of food is thrown into a waste bin, KITRO captures
an image and the time and weight of every item thrown away. In this way,
catering establishments can quickly identify which foods guests do not eat and
adapt accordingly. By reducing the amount of food waste, they also save money.
their holistic solution, KITRO enabled us to make specific changes to our
breakfast offering, reducing waste and cost,” said Michael Vogt, General
Manager of the Swiss hotel Einstein St. Gallen.
they report that by documenting food waste this way, their customers reduce the
amount of food waste by half and save two to eight per cent of food costs
manager of the D’Angleterre Hotel in Geneva, says the system has helped them
find the unwanted ingredients in their meals. “In the morning at breakfast,
when you receive your scrambled eggs, there was a cherry tomato that decorated
the plate. But then we realised, thanks to Kitaro, that no one ate the cherry
tomato,” he explained.
the point of putting it on the plate if no one eats it? Now, we simply take
care of how a dish is presented, simply without the tomato. At the end of the
month, it’s a few kilos of tomatoes that, instead of ending up in the bin and
compost, can be reused or not purchased, resulting in less food waste,” added
in the home environment? At home, we can keep track of what food we throw away
and how much, even without smart technology. For those foods that end up in a
bin one way or another, we can think of a smart composter.
word “smart” seems a bit redundant when talking about composting. However, for
those of you who are not (yet) composting excess food at the moment, we have a
question: why aren’t you doing this?
most common reasons are probably bad smell, space limitation and time – food
needs a lot of time to decompose. All three things are solved by smart
composters, which can even be placed on the kitchen counter.
One of such
composters is Lomi, which shortens composting time from a few months to 20
hours or even less. Place the composter on a table or countertop, throw in any
food that would otherwise land in the trash, and choose one of two settings to
compost.Slika1 Smart composter Lomi. Photo: Lomi.
shortest way is Eco-Express, with which we can quickly get rid of food waste
generated during the preparation of meals such as peels and the like. Within
four hours, Lomi will decompose and chop the waste and reduce the total volume
by 80 per cent.
mode, which takes up to 20 hours, Lomi will create microbially-rich finished
compost suitable for garden or potted plants. By the way, both ways will save
you from the unpleasant odour.
home composter, on the other hand, stands on the ground and looks like a small
trash can. The food is placed in a chamber at the top, where KALEA shreds it
and removes moisture. When the pieces of excess food are shredded and dried,
they fall into another chamber, where the composter creates the optimum temperature,
oxygen level and humidity to turn the waste into compost. The compost is
ready-to-use in 48 hours.
kitchens and smart refrigerators
intelligence can be a significant weapon in the fight against food waste. One
of the ways is smart refrigerators with cameras; these cameras then review the refrigerator’s
contents and suggest different recipes based on the food available. So, that
butter that was put in the back of the fridge months ago won’t be forgotten.
the fridge is smart, it can also learn which recipes we like best and, of
course, take into account any dietary restrictions we may have.
In their scientific publication, Thejasvi Nagaraju and Shubhamangala B.R also explored the possibility of using artificial intelligence so that a refrigerator could use a camera to detect food deterioration.
intelligence could be taught to identify fruits and vegetables that are fresh,
wilting, spoiled, or rotten. With the help of the application, the refrigerator
owner could then receive messages or notifications about which food should be used
as soon as possible.
to taking care of the environment by managing food waste, we also take care of
our wallets. So, with some effort to reduce discarded food, we lose absolutely
nothing – we can only gain.
Keywords: environmental care, digitisation, food, waste, technology.
Author: Marko Želko
article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European
Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of
digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the
and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union
institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec
Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or
opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information