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The aim of any sustainable development goal (SDG) is to transform the world in which we live, into a better place. SDG 12 & 13 seek to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for by 2030 cutting in half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including post-harvest losses). Too Good To Go is the world’s largest surplus food app offering an innovative way where businesses can sell their unsold food (for example, because it is close to its “use by” date, or it is fresh food that cannot be kept for the next day) at a discount to consumers instead of throwing it away. This offers a valuable solution to the global food waste crisis. Within the UK alone approximately seven million users have partnered with more than 15,000 food businesses that are selling their surplus food on the Too Good To Go app.
Too Good To Go was founded in 2015 in Copenhagen Denmark and was launched in the UK in 2016. Too Good To Go was developed as a solution to the shocking fact that 40% of all food produced for human consumption never makes it to our plates and instead it ended up in landfills. Initially, this did not appear to be a problem, but it was soon realized that it could impact the planet. It was discovered that the food that is wasted decomposes in landfills and amounts to 10% of all greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere. While the idea to establish Too Good To Go began as a solution to tackling food waste in the hospitality industry, it has now developed into so much more than this. Too Good To Go exists as a platform where food waste from along the food supply chain is significantly reduced from the producers and wholesalers to supermarkets and convenience stores to hotels and independent market stalls. Jamie pointed out that as the world was now a digital space they were able to reach across seventeen countries in Europe and North America, where there are approximately 12,000 Waste Warriors. Waste Warriors are volunteers who help event organizers to adhere to trash and recycling laws. They also encourage people to place their trash into the correct bins.
In an interview with Co-founder Jamie Crummie, Crummie revealed the idea for "Too Good To Go" came about during his previous role working in human rights law. It was during the time he spent with Amnesty International, that he first became aware of food waste. He attended an event in 2013 that was catered for with food left that would have been otherwise thrown away. The realization came during his time at Amnesty International that there must be a simpler and more accessible way to fight food waste than discarding food. This led him to explore the impact of technology on such a project. In the midst of finding a solution, Jamie connected with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs in Copenhagen and worked together to create Too Good To Go.
The mission of Too Good To Go is to inspire and empower everyone globally to fight food waste together, not only through the use of the app but across all aspects of our lives. He stated that “We want to see a completely planet-friendly food system and this means tackling food waste in all its forms and from every angle, while using the app is an important and easy step to take towards reducing our food waste, it’s not enough on its own”.
At Too Good To Go users are introduced to a more sustainable lifestyle which gives them a greater understanding of the value of food. Much like how removing single-use plastics rose up the agenda, Too Good To Go is looking to ensure that reducing food waste is always on the table especially when the conversation begins about how to tackle climate change. This, he noted, will be something that they will be working on via educational activities, as well as initiatives such as their award-winning ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ campaign. Jamie further noted 10% of all European food waste occurs as a result of misunderstandings around expiration dates labels. The company is currently working with household brands like Nestle, Danone, and Arla on this campaign that aims to re-classify how products should be labeled, this hopefully will revolutionize the way how food is judged and whether food is safe to eat. He believes the more awareness that is built around this food recycling industry, the more they will be able to deal with this issue of food waste, how simple it is to solve, the quicker we will be able to see changes in behavior and regulations across the board.
When asked about the positive impact of the innovation on the business, society, and environment, Jamie emphasized that Too Good To Go offers a win-win for both businesses and consumers.
In response to the question about the business benefit of Too Good to Go, he pointed out that businesses are able to recover otherwise sunk costs and meet new potential customers, while consumers are able to get delicious food at a great price. Businesses would have suffered a loss since their surplus food would have been thrown away. In relation to the organization itself, he shared that for every Magic Bag sold, Too Good To Go takes a small commission to cover operational costs. The rest of the money goes directly back to the business. Food sold through their app is food that has already been written off as waste for the businesses, so the income from it goes directly to the bottom line.
Jamie believes that most importantly, the direct impact of the work of the Too Good To App will happen on the environment. Food waste will contribute to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. These are higher emissions than those from plastics, aviation, and deforestation combined. When food is thrown away, all the resources, energy, and time that were invested into producing, packaging, and transporting this food are all wasted. A recently formed partnership with MyClimate, calculated that every Magic Bag of food rescued equates to the carbon footprint from charging one smartphone fully four hundred and twenty-two (422) times. When Too Good to Go examined their UK market their research showed that over seven (7) million Magic Bags to date, were saved. This alone equates to seventeen (17.5) million kg of CO2e, the same as the yearly emissions of 2,059 UK citizens. This means that every Magic Bag of food saved via the Too Good To App will make a difference for our planet and pave the way for a greener future.
When asked about the short and long-term effects Currie noted “no one likes to throw away food” but yet in the UK, more than ten (10) million tonnes of food is wasted every year. Too Good To Go provides a simple and easy way for everyone - whether you are a business owner or consumer - to help less food end up in the bin. The longer-term effect of this is our environment being better off. As mentioned, food waste is a huge contributor to climate change. So much so that Project Drawdown’s 2020 report named reducing food waste as the most immediate and impactful action we can take to fight climate change. Reducing food waste is also reducing the amount of land, resources, and energy that is taken to produce our food. He suggested that building a more planet-friendly food system is vital if we are to combat climate change.
Madeleine Allan and Jamie Crummie, PR Specialist and co-founder
Too Good To Go is a mobile app where businesses sell their extra unsold food at a discounted price instead of contributing to the global issue of food waste.