Startups seek to reduce food waste globally :CES 2023

host of memes make fun of the fine art of deciding when to eat them.

Dutch entrepreneur Marco Snikkers is aiming to solve that problem with an avocado scanner unveiled this week at the CES tech show in Las Vegas. and designed for use in supermarkets. It uses optical sensors and artificial intelligence technology to determine ripeness, showing on a screen whether an avocado is firm or ready to eat.

Snikkers startup OneThird isn’t just trying to reduce frustration in the kitchen. According to the United Nations, around a third of food is wasted worldwide. That means all the carbon emitted to grow, ship, and distribute that food was wasted.

“That’s a big problem,” Snikkers said. “That is a trillion dollar problem for our world and it has a huge impact on CO2 emissions and water use.”

OneThird is one of several start-ups at CES this year working to solve different components of the problem, from helping the food industry limit waste to offering quick composting solutions to help keep food scraps out of landfills that produce methane.

OneThird already works with growers, distributors and others throughout the supply chain to predict the shelf life of avocados, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries. It will further expand its ability to ripen more produce later this year, with the goal of helping reduce the amount of food wasted around the world. And it’s testing the easy-to-use avocado scanner at a supermarket in Canada this month.

Another Dutch entrepreneur, Olaf van der Veen, is working to empower restaurants to reduce food waste, most of which occurs in the kitchen before food is served to customers.

His device, Orbisk, uses a camera attached to a trash can to scan any food that is about to be thrown away. In addition to looking at the type of food, the amount and the time of day, “we can see if it’s on a plate, in a pan, on a cutting board, which gives circumstantial information as to why it was lost,” van der said. See.

Orbisk organizes and shares that information with the restaurant so they can understand their disposal patterns, helping them save money and reduce food waste, and with it, emissions and water use.

The startup’s devices are placed in commercial kitchens in some 10 European countries, with some customers as far away as India.

He said that even after some surplus food is donated, there is more food waste per restaurant in the US than in Europe. That’s why the company is at CES, he said, hoping to further expand its nascent market.

Reducing the amount of food wasted is preferable, but keeping discarded food out of landfills is the next best option.

When food scraps are properly composted, they release carbon dioxide as part of the biological process of becoming nutrient-rich soil. When food gets stuck in landfills, the decomposition process produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. that contributes significantly to global warming because it has a stronger short-term impact more than 80 times stronger than even carbon dioxide.

The 2006 London Protocol banned dumping food waste into the ocean, prompting South Korea to establish a mandatory composting system. While the infrastructure allows the country to properly dispose of nearly all food waste, residents have to transport bags of food to designated curbside bins.

Reencle is designed to make that process easy. The metal bin is a hyper-rapid composting system unveiled at CES this year and helps households reduce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of food scraps by 90% of the volume in just 24 hours.

While the product has sold tens of thousands of units in South Korea, Reencle’s parent company, Hanmi Flexible, hopes to expand into foreign markets, marketing director Jinhwi Bang said.

How is it so fast? The device uses self-replicating microorganisms to convert waste into compost. Its competitor, Lomi, grinds and dehydrates food scraps, which requires the byproduct to be mixed with soil before composting, while Reencle says its byproduct can be directly composted.

Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, says he hopes people don’t think it takes advanced technology to compost.

But he says he understands that not everyone has a garden or patio, and that “all the tools in the toolbox have to be on the table.”

Technology is part of the solution. But Murray says that economic incentives and systemic change are the other key components in reducing food waste globally.

“We need to make it more expensive to waste food,” he said. “That will create the incentive for commercial businesses, restaurants, stores and even consumers to invest in systems and technology to make sure we don’t waste food.”

The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of environmental and water policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s environmental coverage, visit:

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