10 May 2016
Loughborough tackles food waste with app concept
A smartphone app concept devised by Loughborough has the potential to prevent an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of food from being wasted each year in the UK.
The Pantry app aims to change consumer behaviour and attitudes towards food waste by encouraging us to forward plan and take greater ownership of our food.
The UK generates about 15 million tonnes of food waste per year, with almost half of this attributable to the consumer. It is estimated that 4.2 million tonnes of UK domestic food waste is avoidable, with the cost of this avoidable food waste for a family of four calculated at £720 per year.
In a study conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) at Loughborough University, 10 volunteers recorded a description of their food waste, its weight and the reason for discarding it – while using a mobile phone to help demonstrate how the Pantry app would work over a seven-day period.
The functions of the proposed app include:
- A stock list to allow consumers to keep an inventory of when the food was purchased, including expiry (use-by and best before) dates
- An expiry tracker which operates in parallel with the stock list, linked to an alarm to help notify when items are about to exceed the use-by date
- A recipe recommendation – advanced versions of the app could include details of what to cook with food left in the fridge/freezer. This function could be linked to a meal planner or retailer internet shopping sites for easy purchase of additional items.
The study showed that as a result of using the app, there was a reduction of 34% food waste across the five food types. Scaled-up for all food types in the UK, this would equate to savings of around 1.5 million tonnes of food waste per year.
 Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP), 2014. Estimates of food and packaging waste in the UK grocery retail and hospitality supply chain.
 Quested, T., Ingle, R. & Parry, A., 2013. Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom 2012, WRAP.