26 April 2023
FoodCloud – Addressing the Harm Food Waste Does to Our Planet
On one occasion as marketing director of a Unilever food company, I sent tens of thousands of perfectly edible packets of soup to landfill. An error had been made, and the ingredients and those stated on the packaging did not match. There was no FoodCloud around then.
It was not just the waste of good food, in a world where people go hungry — it was also the impact of putting food waste into landfill, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Food waste contributes 8 to 10 per cent of total global #greenhousegasemissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas-emitting country in the world, behind China and the United States (source FAO).
FoodCloud, founded in 2012 by Trinity College Dublin graduates Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien created a simple and ingenious model to address surplus food (they correctly point out that much of what is considered ‘food waste’ is perfectly edible, and should be regarded as ‘surplus food’). They have built a user-friendly technology platform that allows them to match up surplus food from retailers and food companies with charities and community groups who can use this food. In Ireland they work with all the leading retailers (Tesco have been supporters since the beginning) as well as major food companies including Kellogg’s and Nestlé. The 600-plus charities and community groups who benefit include schools, care homes and homeless shelters.
Since 2013 FoodCloud have redistributed over 193 million meals in Ireland and internationally, rescued more than 81,000 tonnes of food from landfill, and as a result the release of the equivalent of over 250,000 tons of CO2 has been avoided.
I love the energy and creativity that this social enterprise’s team bring to their mission: initiatives include the All Taste Zero Waste chefs’ challenge and Ireland’s First Zero Waste Food Truck (great idea for your next corporate event!). Working with advertising agency Folk Wunderman Thompson they created a brilliant, eye catching campaign to address the fact that many people, including government and business leaders, do not fully understand the link between #foodwaste and #climatechange.
FoodCloud are sharing their model and learnings internationally. In the UK they work in partnership with FareShare, as well as with partners in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. They are active in the European Food Banks Federation, the EU Commission’s working group on Food Loss and Waste and the Global FoodBanking Network.
Finally, a shout-out to the organizations driving and fostering #entrepreneurial spirit and skills in Ireland who supported FoodCloud’s founders in their early endeavours. These include the LaunchBox accelerator run by Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace and The Social Innovation Fund, now rebranded as Rethink Ireland, where I had the privilege of mentoring FoodCloud’s co-founder Aoibheann O’Brien.