Apps like Too Good to Go intend to find a technological solution to food waste.

By Madeline Brik.

When it comes to sustainable initiatives, one of the main challenges is often a lack of resources. An emerging eco-conscious app, Too Good to Go (TGTG), offers large cities an innovative way to counteract food waste with just a few quick taps.

Food waste is an ongoing problem with multifaceted consequences. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, cities are major contributors to the food waste epidemic due in part to their large concentration of restaurants. Food waste harms not only food-insecure populations, but the environment; as landfills accumulate with food waste they release methane, a greenhouse gas that has negative implications for climate change.

As issues surrounding food waste become more apparent, the tech world has looked to create solutions to the problem through new apps. As Too Good to Go has gained momentum globally, apps with similar features such as Karma, YourLocal, and OLIO have also launched that direct hungry customers to excess food from local cafes, stores, restaurants, and supermarkets.

Too Good to Go was founded in 2016 by Lucie Basch and Jamie Crummie, who saw an intersection between food waste management and a growing global concern for climate change. “Our co-founders met in Europe at a conference, and they all shared the same passion for fighting food waste. Their various backgrounds in the food industry gave them a firsthand look into how much food is wasted across the entire production and supply chain, and they agreed something needed to be done. In 2016, they developed a basic version of the app, and the rest is history,” Ivy Chiou, the U.S. PR Manager of Too Good to Go, wrote via email to Mission.

The program works with local businesses to redistribute food before it hits the trash can. Consumers across 14 European countries, as well as U.S. cities New York and Boston, can purchase heavily discounted meals through the app. “The U.S. marks our 15th active country and the app has saved 60 million meals in four short years,” explains Chiou.

When it comes to making a positive ecological impact, the benefits of redistributing food are abundant. “Globally, food waste contributes to 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to global greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China,” expands Chiou.

Apps like Too Good to Go intend to make sustainable practices easily accessible to a wide audience. Businesses don’t have to go out of their way to reach hungry customers, they can simply sign up through the app and begin selling meals that would have otherwise been thrown away. “Since supply is hard to predict at the end of a business day, store owners can adjust their supply in real time on our app,” Chiou says.

In order to sustain improvements in food waste, TGTG is reaching different sectors of society. “In Europe, we provide free educational resources to schools, while working with local governments and industry changemakers to influence policies and improve food waste prevention practices. Too Good To Go hopes to make the same impact here, as we bring the food waste revolution stateside,” explains Chiou.

Too Good to Go has plans to reach more cities in the near future, having recently expanded into New Jersey and with goals to reach the West Coast. As the app and other similar platforms continue to grow, such technological innovations may prove to be powerful tools for combating the consequences of negligible food waste management on the environment.