Food waste is a huge global problem. In the US alone, up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten — that’s the equivalent of $165 billion each year. Here in the UK, around 15m tonnes of food is wasted each year, with 4.2m tonnes of that being edible food.
With so much edible food going to waste in the UK, the team behind Too Good To Go (TGTG) were determined to revolutionise the way food retailers and individuals view leftovers.
Founded in Denmark last year, Too Good To Go is a hyper-local environmental social enterprise dedicated to reducing food waste. Through the Too Good To Go app, you can order delicious food from local restaurants, cafes and bakeries, collect it up to an hour before closing time and enjoy it on-the-go.
With a keen focus on sustainability, all prices are between £2-4. The app is available in London, Brighton, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and you can download it here.
We caught up with co-founder of Too Good To Go, Jamie, to find our more about TGTG’s mission to save food, money and the planet.
So, what is the mission of Too Good To Go?
Too Good To Go is an app and web based platform that is tackling food waste by placing the lost value back onto food, by allowing cafes, bakeries and restaurants to sell their surplus food at the end of lunch or dinner service for our users to come and collect.
The idea was born out of a desire to have a massive social impact by reducing food waste — what we consider to be one of the world’s dumbest problems. It’s not just about eating sustainably and affordably, we are motivated by changing attitudes and getting as many people involved in making a positive impact.
Why is it so important for the western world to make changes in attitudes towards food waste?
Unlike issues like air pollution, which has rightfully received massive public condemnation, food waste hasn’t featured prominently in public discourse over the past few decades which doesn’t sit right with us at all. Not only is food waste a massive moral issue — over ⅓ of all food produced is thrown away while at the same time approximately 1 in 9 people in the entire world are chronically undernourished — but it is also an environmental issue: so much so, that if food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest Greenhouse Gas emitter after the US and China.
And finally food waste also proposes a financial issue — we spent over £17 billion on food waste in the UK during 2016 which is 2.5x more than our annual Police budget. It is literally money thrown away. So as we can see, food waste is an issue that has to be taken seriously and a change in attitudes and perceptions towards it can be the driving force to ending such an unnecessary global problem.
“If food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest Greenhouse Gas emitter after the US and China”
How do you ensure that food is safe to eat for users of the platform?
There is no exact science to food prep in hospitality so food waste is often an unavoidable consequence. As such the food available on the platform is perfectly good for consumption — in fact it is the exact same food you would pay full price for had you gone into a store during the last 30 minutes of service. Too Good To Go is just the safety net to ensure this food doesn’t have to go to waste by making this available to all our users.
How do you choose which cafes and retailers to work with?
We want to make as big an impact as possible which means rescuing as many meals as we can. To do this we want to work with as many stores as possible. However, we do have a few golden rules that we follow — all food must be offered between 50-90% off, and all food must be food that would otherwise be thrown away.
What makes TGTG a sustainable and affordable way to eat?
All the food offered on our platform is food that would otherwise have gone to waste. And when food goes to landfill it releases methane gas which is even more potent than CO2. This means our users are awesome doo-gooders as they are not only stopping food from being thrown away, but they are helping our environment too. And they can make this positive impact in a super affordable way too as all our meals are offered between £2-£4 and are 50-90% off their regular retail price.
What’s your best advice to people trying to reduce their personal food waste?
Learn the best ways to store food to prevent food from turning. Common misconception is to store bread in the fridge — it actually goes stale six times faster than bread kept in a bread bin. Same goes for bananas, keep them them separate from other fruit in a fruit bowl and only once they are ripe place them in the fridge — doing this prematurely actually speeds up the process of them ripening. So by learning how to properly store our food we can prolong its life and limit our wastage. Although, we live by the motto – if you buy…eat it.
Who can use the TGTG app?
ANYONE!! Well almost anyone, all you need is a tablet or smartphone with access to either a bank card or a Paypal account. Then you can get rescuing meals from the moment you’ve downloaded the app.
How can people get involved with the platform?
We love as many people to get involved as possible, this could be as simple as using the app and telling your friends or family, to encouraging your local cafe or bakery to stop binning their surplus and get on Too Good To Go — and of course share, share, share 😉
Download the app and sign up here.