We’re lucky that high quality food is so abundant in the UK – but we waste it in massive quantities.
Billions of perfectly edible meals are chucked in our bins every year. According to the charity Fareshare, which redistributes supermarket food waste to people in need, 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK. And several million more tonnes are thrown from cupboards and fridges in households around the country, according to resource consultancy WRAP.
If you want to get serious on food waste, maybe save a few pennies and spread some joy at the same time, here are the three apps you need to know about.
Too Good To Go
Founded in Denmark in 2015, and launched in the UK two years ago, Too Good To Go – which calls itself a “marketplace for unsold food” – was founded by two men shocked by the amount of food they witnesses being poured into bins after a buffet in Copenhagen.
It now operates in nine countries, has about six million registered customers, and has “rescued nearly eight million meals”, its UK managing director Hayley Conick told HuffPost UK. “It’s all over the UK, we’re in about 100 different towns and cities.”
The idea is to offer cut price food that might otherwise go to waste. In the UK, restaurants including Yo Sushi!, Costa, Planet Organic and Patisserie Valerie are signed up. They make meals available on the app when they would otherwise be chucked – selling them for a bargain price, usually at about a 70 per cent discount.
“We work with restaurants, cafes, hotels, and any store that has food left over. And we make the food available for consumers to go along and buy it,” Conick explains.
The customer uses the app to search for participating restaurants, places an order, goes to collect it, and then Too Good To Go takes a fee of about £1 from the restaurant in question, which gets the rest of the cash. In Conick’s words, it leaves “everyone as a winner”.
Founded in Sweden in 2016, Karma has recently expanded to the UK, but currently only in London. It offers app users the chance to buy “high quality” food that would otherwise go to waste at a 50 per cent discount, hooking up with more than 400 local restaurants and other independent food retailers, including the Michelin-starred Aquavit.
It chose to launch in London in 2018 because of the city’s foodie scene and we can only hope it travels further soon. Karma’s founders reckon the app has already “rescued” an average of 50,000 food items a month and diverted an average of 200 tonnes of edible food from landfill in Sweden and the UK.
To use it, people can browse by their preferred cuisine or use the geolocation tool to view participating restaurants near them. They then pay through the app and collect the meal to take away.
Olio connects communities and local shops together so surplus food can be shared not thrown away – for free.
A bit like a marketplace for food, once you sign up you can take pictures of your own leftovers and list them as available. If someone likes the look of it then they can contact you asking if they can have it before coming and collecting it themselves. Volunteers can also pick up surplus from restaurants and distribute it to people in need.
The app initially trialled in 2015 around Crouch End and Finsbury Park in north London before expanding to the rest of the capital. Now it can be used anywhere in the UK – but relies on people signing up in a local area.