by Emma Knauf
One of the biggest concerns regarding food is food waste. Globally about 1.4 billion tons of food are wasted every year, and out of every single country, the United States wastes the most food, approximately 40 million tons of food annually. People around the world are working hard to find effective solutions that will minimize food waste and address food insecurity. One food waste solution relatively new to the U.S. is Too Good To Go, an app partnering with restaurants, stores, and bakeries to sell leftovers rather than throwing them away.
On it’s website, Too Good To Go is described as the #1 anti-food waste app, working with restaurants and stores to sell their unbought food at the end of the day. It allows users to purchase leftovers from places in their area at a lower cost. The leftovers can vary by the day, and users usually do not know what food they are getting when they place an order, bringing a surprise element to the app. The app also hopes to bring attention to the effect food waste has on climate change and reduce its carbon footprint.
The app currently has locations in 17 countries and is working with over 122,300 partners (cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, etc.) to eliminate food waste and its effect on the environment. Too Good To Go launched in 2016, starting out in Copenhagen, then expanding to other European countries over the next few years. In October 2020, the app made its debut in North America, and in the U.S., it is currently focused on operating in big cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Boston. The app has over 47.1 million users all over the world and has saved over 99.2 million meals from getting thrown in the trash, showing how widespread and influential Too Good To Go hasbecome within its first few years of existence.
Although the app is seeking to fix the global food waste crisis, it is important to address that the app, in a way, is commodifying food waste. The app might be taking food out of the hands of people that actually need it and emphasising profit over people.
Another issue with the app is dietary restrictions and food allergies. At the moment, the app does not have a feature for users to input what they can and cannot eat. There is a vegetarian filter while searching for restaurants, but that limits the amount of restaurants those users can buy from. The app is also unable to monitor what food will be placed in every order, as most leftovers are “surprise bags” with random food that could change every time.
The app is on the right track to reduce food waste globally and bring attention to the environmental problems caused by food waste. It provides a modern and less expensive solution to tackle food waste by connecting users with restaurants and stores in their community, while bringing an exciting twist to leftovers. If the app expanded its accessibility beyond major cities and took into account food insecurity and dietary needs, it would be able to make a larger impact on more people and on the well being of society. By implementing a few changes and reevaluating their objectives and features, Too Good To Go might become the solution for the global food waste crisis and an example for people and companies to follow.