Food waste is a big issue that's receiving lots of attention at the moment. The amount of food the Western world wastes daily is astronomical and the question of what to do with the huge amount that is thrown away is a growing concern.
A recent claim by the UK member of Parliament, Kerry McCarthy, stated that around 50% of all edible and healthy food in the EU is actually wasted - an even more startling figure when you realise that millions of people around the world go hungry everyday.
A number of schemes have emerged that try to tackle the issue of food waste and the UK Government recently discussed legislation that would force supermarkets to redistribute their waste materials daily. However, as with most markets, it's not government legislation but innovation and development that will make the biggest differences in helping tackle the problem.
Take for example the work of Andy Pag - he's driven to Greece in a car powered on grease, adventured around the world in a vehicle operated purely on donated vegetable oil and is now raising funds to fly from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a plane fueled on gasoline. A gasoline that's produced from wasted plastics.
In a recent interview with Fastcoexist Pag said: "This is the first time a plane has been fueled from trash as far as I am aware. It’s uplifting when you are take a load of trash and turn it into fuel, and with that you can fly the length of the country. It’s really inspiring." Andy is also the mastermind behind the world's first chocolate powered truck - a vehicle he used to travel to Timbuktu.
Andy is one of the best examples of how different waste can be used to fuel vehicles but he's not the only innovator trying to harness these technologies. The supermarket giant, Tesco, have been trialing a system that turns waste food products into gas that is used to power delivery trucks - a game changing idea when you consider the amount of food that supermarkets waste and the cost saving benefits of producing your own fuel.
Then there's social and community schemes like FlashFood that recently picked up first position in an innovation competition organised by Microsoft. Developed by four students from Arizona State University, the scheme uses web and smart phone apps to allow restaurants and caterers to tell the world when they have finished service with left-over food. The system then automatically informs a network of volunteers about the food allowing them to mobilise, collect and distribute it to those in need.
So while governments meet to discuss the issue of how to regulate, control and manage the issue of food waste, maybe the time would be better spent asking how innovation and technology can help fix the problem. History shows us that entrepreneurs and inventors can make big differences in the market place and this piece looks at just a few of the ideas being developed - it will be interesting to see what new innovations occur over the coming months as more clever businesses breathe new life into waste food.
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