The movement against food waste
Food waste has become one of the most pressing issues of modern communities. And it is bigger than most people realise. In fact, nearly one-third of the food produced for human consumption worldwide gets wasted. For our series Doing Business with an Impact, Nicoline Koch Rasmussen, Head of Marketing of Too Good To Go introduces us to their revolutionary food saving app.
Too Good To Go aims at implementing SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production by allowing shops to resell their surplus produce. Simultaneously, they are tackling SDG 2 Zero hunger by offering an affordable alternative to the purchase of full-priced goods.
Can you tell me about your business and how it was born?
Nicoline: We have created an app called Too Good To Go in 2016. It aims at reducing food waste from supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries and hotels. According to statistics, we throw away 1,3 billion tonnes of food every year. It is approximately one-third of all food produced in total. Our mission is to reduce this number as much as possible. We invite restaurants, hotels, bakeries and supermarkets to become part of our platform. They can sell surplus food or food that is close to expiry at the end of the day at a lower price through our app.
But we started to become much more than just an app. We opened a store in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen where we also sell surplus products from producers. We are also working towards shifting people’s habits. And through this movement, we hope that the average household food waste will be reduced as well. The aim is to fight this global issue at all levels. Currently, our company consists of around 290 employees, and we just opened our 10th market in Italy.
How is your service sustainable?
Nicoline: If we talk about CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, 8% of all greenhouse gases are caused by food waste, which has a significantly negative impact on the environment. Unfortunately, for a very long time, this has not been taken into consideration when talking about air pollution. The focus has always been on transportation and energy. However, recently the attention has been drawn to the assessment of the footprint of food production.
Furthermore, all food waste ends up in landfills, where the organic matter is turned into methane. This is one of the main causes of the dramatic temperature rises on our planet. Methane absorbs 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Thus, reducing food waste must be a priority if we want to make a significant change.
What about us? We are sustainable in the sense that our core base is entirely focused on reducing these emissions in the most effective way possible. At the same time, providing the food needed to feed the ever-growing population at more accessible prices.
How is your service connected to the SDGs and which one?
Nicoline: We are primarily connected to SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production. More precisely to Target 12.3 from the goal: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”.
Especially, consuming food that would otherwise be thrown away is a smart way to optimise the resources needed to produce that food. We also indirectly implement SDG 2: Zero hunger. Since the aim of our business is to provide nutritious food below-market prices in the countries we operate in.
What are the next steps for making your company greener?
Nicoline: We are trying to expand our coverage and reach as many supermarkets, hotels, bakeries and restaurants as possible all around the world, starting in Europe. We also started looking into canteens because we discovered that there is a lot of food waste. The more markets we go into, the higher are the chances to make a visible impact on the numbers.
We are also reaching out to educational centres – like schools and universities – to spread awareness on the global issue of food waste, and to explain how individuals can be part of our initiative just by following certain norms in terms of cooking and buying food. We believe that the earlier children are exposed to these facts and understand the urgency of this problem, the earlier they can contribute to solving it.
A big step that we took is launching our initiative called Often Good After. We managed to convince some of the biggest food and drinks producers to make an addition to their labels because many people think that “best before” dates imply that the product cannot be used after its expiration date, which is not necessarily true. Carlsberg, Arla, Unilever, Coop and many others have already added “often good after” to their labelling. And we want to encourage enterprises all around the world to do the same.
Do you have any tips for other companies that want to work with sustainability?
Nicoline: What I would recommend getting as much knowledge as possible to find the best solution for their company. It may not be the cheapest in the short term, and it might not be easy to implement, but it promises a long-term success, in terms of potential. After you have implemented one solution, do not stop there, thinking that you have done everything you could. There is always more, and there is always something that can be further improved and developed.