From distributing unsold items to resource recovery, a number of French startups have been fighting food waste on a large scale for several years. Here’s a close-up on three of them, in time for the launch of the “Gulfood Zero Waste” initiative at the next Gulfood trade show, which opened its doors on February 13.
This startup created in 2014 offers solutions to players at every stage in the food ecosystem (manufacturers, distributors, consumers and non-profits) for reducing food waste and recovering and redistributing products that are close to their sell-by date (donations to food banks and meal programs, resale to individuals, re-use, animal feed, upcycling and more).
One of their solutions resides in an app that enables consumers to buy the day’s unsold fresh products from local businesses.
The start-up, which saves 120,000 meals a day, has been expanding across Europe: after Spain, Portugal and Belgium, it just entered the Italian market by buying out their competitor MyFoody for €3 million. “MyFoody already works with over 200 points of sale in Italy, including major supermarket chains, like Lidl Italia,” Julien Fanara, Country Manager for Phenix Italia, points out.
The start-up’s goal is to save 450,000 meals a day and to be established in 10 European countries by 2023.
Comerso connects major retailers with non-profits to recover unsold items. Teams from the company, which was founded in 2013, collect merchandise directly from stores or warehouses then distribute it to non-profits that can use it. Taking all categories (including food) into account, in 2021, Comerso collected €45 million euros’ worth of merchandise – a figure that has been growing at a rate of 25% a year. “We will be continuing to grow apace in 2022, particularly thanks to non-food items; but there is still plenty of progress to be made in the food sector,” François Vallée, marketing director for the company that now employs 40 people, explains.
- Love Your Waste
Treating food waste as a resource: that is the idea behind Love Your Waste, a Parisian firm founded in 2014. The fact is that, appropriately collected and processed, food waste can be used to produce lots of things: energy, thanks to biogas; fresh vegetables, by composting it; and even jobs, because of the labor involved in collection and processing. Love Your Waste works with school, office and hospital cafeterias to collect and transform their waste. The 600 kilos (over 1300 lbs.) per month of biodegradable waste produced by one hospital they work with enables the production of over 1,000 m3 (over 35,000 cubic feet) of methane biogas, as well as eight tons of natural fertilizer.
In 2016, Love Your Waste was one of the winners of the European Commission’s ‘New Ways to Grow’ social-innovation competition. Since then, it has scooped up numerous prizes for innovation and sustainable development, and has already helped recover over 700 tons of waste.
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