Australia sends more than 7 million tonnes of organic waste to landfill every year, with up to 46 per cent of that being food waste. That’s over 3 million tonnes of wasted food, every single year.
Food rescue operations like OzHarvest and Food Without Borders are doing their bit to help redistribute excess food to those who need it most. Now the Y Waste app can help the rest of us get in on the act.
“We were inspired by some overseas solutions to make the best food waste app in the world,” Ian Price, Y Waste CEO, tells SBS. “Nobody wants to throw out food and we believe we can be a part of solving the problem.”
Win/win for customers and retailers
Through Y Waste, retailers can post and sell their surplus stock at substantially discounted prices, which is a big win for customers. It’s also a considerable win for the retailer, who can generate extra revenue and save on wastage costs.
"Food waste is one of modern day society’s dumbest problem," says Donny Chien, Y Waste’s Chief Anti-Wastage Officer, tells SBS. "We believe good food is a labour of love and an expression of creativity for those who toil to make it."
Almost 300 merchants are already on the platform. Large companies like Donut King, Muffin Break, AboutLife Healthy Supermarkets, Sumo Salad and Sushi Hub join many local businesses including Ben's Supernatural, Fossix Coffee, Chur Burger, Pie Tin, Great Aunty Three and De Costi Fish and Chip Shop.
"Food waste is one of modern day society’s dumbest problem."
“Up until now we have rescued almost 16,000 meals, plus the 2,400 meals our merchants have donated [to the pilot program] so far,” says Chien.
How it works
The app is easy to use once you’ve signed up and enabled Location Services while the app is on. Nearby food deals will immediately pop up on your screen, but you can input a postcode or suburb to find deals elsewhere. Click on the offer from each outlet to see the deal and pick up time (generally this will be in the last hour or half hour before closing time).
The business will also indicate how many portions are still available, which helps you estimate whether you’ll be in the running to grab a deal or not. Most establishments won’t be able to tell you exactly what you’ll be picking up at the designated time. It all depends on what’s not sold on the day.
Direct donations to those in need
Y Waste is also trialling a food donations platform, to help connect retailers with excess food directly with people experiencing food insecurity. A unique code, issued by a certified charity, allows a person in need daily access to free food. The venue posts the food it wants to donate for the day, the recipient logs in with their code to reserve the food then collects the food direct from the store at the agreed time.
“Our goal is to eliminate all the challenges charities are having in connection with picking up the end of day surplus food at the food outlets.”
Putting the merchant in direct contact with the people experiencing food insecurity is a unique approach. The Y Waste team see the role of the app as giving a helping hand to existing food charities.
“Our goal is to eliminate all the challenges charities are having in connection with picking up the end-of-day surplus food at the food outlets,” says Chien. These include things like reliance on volunteers, distribution logistics (the end of the day tends to be the same for most stores, stretching resources) and storage.
Rolling out the platform
The donation platform is currently being piloted in Sydney suburbs Marrickville and Newtown, working with local charities Addison Road Community Centre and Asylum Seeker Centre. “After four weeks our merchants have donated over 3,400 meals on the app,” says Chien.
The team plans to roll out the donation opportunity to more businesses in more areas. Y Waste is currently operating in Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. They launch in New Zealand next week in collaboration with a local charity, and will expand to Indonesia and Singapore in the next few months.
“Our platform has proven extremely scalable, so we will be able to roll out in any country.”
“Our platform has proven extremely scalable, so we will be able to roll out in any country,” Chien says. “Our donation platform is flexible. Over time we can include not only food donation, but also services and other perishables such as flowers and daily essentials to help those in need as well.
“It’s a win/win as we are helping [the merchant] solve a big problem. The customers get to eat great food and save money. And we all get to save our planet.”
Lead image from Instagram @thepietin.