Infographics / Technology
Published: 01.08.2022

Did you know that food waste doubled last year? 931 million tonnes of food are thrown away each year, with 63% coming from households, 26% from restaurants, and 13% from retail. At the same time, countless people around the world do not have enough food. Reducing even 1% of food waste means reclaiming 9 million tonnes of food that could go to those who need it.

The right tool at the right time = tangible innovation for all

Milos Krivokuca of UNDP in Serbia recounted a noteworthy innovation at UNDP x Thailand Policy Lab’s policy innovation journey – Sip of the South. Based on blockchain technology, a food donation platform was developed with support from the Serbian government and the private sector. The platform connects food donors to NGOs, who then bring the food to vulnerable groups, thus reducing food waste from retail shops.

Innovation does not need to be sophisticated. It needs to bring about changes.

The process is simple: users register with the platform as donors or NGOs, then browse the available food. The platform shows the types and quantity of listed donations from which NGOs can pick and reserve. They can collect the food donation within 2 hours; if they do not come in time, reserved food will pass on to the next in line.

Similar to commerce platforms, this platform displays the retail shops and their contributions. The whole process is transparent and fast, thanks to blockchain technology. Most importantly, the project reduces food waste and increases access to food for people in need.

Challenges and limitations give birth to innovation.

In July 2021, a group called “We Take Care of Our Own” emerged. Their goal was to deliver help to workers’ camps, whose residents could not leave under the lockdown order. Unsettled numbers of workers and limitations of communication technology led the 12-member group to create a simple system. They encourage people to survey workers’ camps near them and pin them on Google Maps. Volunteers then distribute information for donors to reach out and aid the camps.

Moreover, the group called for volunteers in many positions, such as drivers, medical personnel, and pharmacists. They communicate through group chats on the LINE application, separated according to their role as donors, surveyors, and others, to keep daily updates up while avoiding the repetition of tasks. The main “We Take Care of Our Own” group worked as coordinators to facilitate the process. Throughout the 30-day closure order, they ensured that over 80,000 workers had food and necessities. They lost no time setting a complex system, as hunger waits for no one. Their endeavour is an example that innovation can emerge anytime, anywhere.

What do the food waste reduction system and food aid donation have in common? They exemplify that those food are not leftover, expired, or below-standard. They are surplus resources that can and should go into use. If we, humans, cease to over-consume or over-accumulate resources, the symptom treatment that is donation may not be necessary anymore.

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