How technology can prevent and reduce food waste

2022-10-31

3 minutes, 55 seconds read

How technology can prevent and reduce food waste

Are you ready to reduce the amount of food waste created by your organization? The first step to driving effective change is getting a clear understanding of the problem, and that begins with the collection of food waste data. 

According to the USDA, between 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted, amounting to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food waste by 2010 levels. However, this dated data provides a hint at the challenge with food waste reduction efforts. Without specific, timely data on the amounts and types of food being wasted, it’s difficult to understand if efforts to reduce waste are actually effective. 

“Everybody thinks they don’t waste food,” said Clementine O’Connor, Sustainable Food Systems Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme. “Food waste data helps governments understand the scale of the problem at home, and make the case for action.” Data can also help companies drive improvement in how they purchase, produce and serve food. 

Challenges in collecting food waste data

Data is critical for driving measurable improvement in food waste reduction efforts, but it has been challenging to collect food waste data in the past. Many organizations have relied on tools like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Waste Assessment Guidebook. The guidance demonstrates how to conduct a baseline assessment, creating what it calls a “snapshot in time” of food waste. However, this relies on manual methods that are often impractical for collecting data over a long stretch of time. In addition, a “snapshot” of food waste provides limited data for driving long-term action. After all, a lot can change in a short time when it comes to consumer preferences. 

Organizations can gain far clearer insight into their food waste situation with regular tracking achieved using data-driven technology. Emerging technology allows food production organizations to collect data consistently, allowing for analysis of ongoing trends over time. 

However, technology on its own can’t drive the change needed. IT professionals often find that transformation requires change to people, processes, and technology. As a result, technology solutions are most effective when they make processes easier for employees. 

A simpler solution for tracking food waste

Ease of use is what makes LFC biodigesters a unique solution. This sealed equipment offers the dual ability to serve as an in-line food waste disposal solution while collecting data that can mitigate future waste. 

The biodigesters come equipped with access to the LFC Cloud, a cloud-based data analytic program. The platform provides visibility into the organic waste stream of an organization. This is achieved using an NFC card reader that allows businesses to account for the types or sources of waste entering the biodigester. When using the NFC card reader, the administrator can denote that certain cards represent specific types of waste, different sources of the waste, or operators depositing food waste. The biodigester then displays the amount of waste based on the card that was used. 

This data is all made available on the LFC Cloud, where users can view data numerically and graphically by the hour, day, week, month, and year. Users can easily create reports for stakeholders and identify trends over time. For example, by identifying recurring examples of a certain type of food waste, operators can adjust purchasing, saving costs while minimizing the potential for generating additional food waste. 

Using food waste data to drive change

With clear data in hand, food service and production businesses can better identify what’s driving their food waste. If there are certain ingredients or dishes that are thrown away in larger amounts or at greater frequency than others, data can be used to optimize portion sizes or entire menus. This insight allows businesses to better adjust their inventory levels and more rapidly adapt to seasonal trends. With data around customer demand, organizations can also take steps to increase customer satisfaction. 

Data also makes it easy for organizations to add goals around food waste to their sustainability reports. With technology-based tracking, it becomes easier to share goals and progress with employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders. This data can also be used in financial reporting, as many organizations find that investments in the reduction of food waste generate a rapid return as well as long-term savings.

In addition, large organizations can use data on food waste to standardize purchasing and operations across multiple sites, driving multi-campus operational efficiencies. 

There are many ways that organizations can use their food waste data, but the first step is to get a clearer understanding of the problem. If you’re ready to learn more about how an LFC biodigester can help you mitigate your food waste, contact Power Knot today.