This Is How IKEA Plans To Cut Its Food Waste In Half Within Three Years

Every day, about one third of all the food produced in the world is wasted, or 1.3 billion tons per year, according to the United Nations. At the same time, one in every nine people across the world goes hungry. And if we saved just one-fourth of the food we currently waste, we could feed 870 million hungry people in the world. 

Staring down this massive problem, the global home goods giant Ikea is working to cut the food waste at its signature cafeterias in half by 2020. On a weekday, an average Ikea restaurant usually serves around 1,200 customers, who line up for the Swedish meatballs and marzipan cream cakes. But with expectations to serve so many, it's easy for the cooks to over-prepare and pounds of food are thrown away at the end of each day. 

Called 'Food is Precious', the initiative to cut this waste employs a smart scale that will measure all the thrown-out food at its 400 locations, and come up with innovative solutions to reduce that waste. Now whenever an employee throws out food, the scale will record the weight of that food. Then, on a touchscreen mounted near the trash, employees quickly record what type of food was thrown out. Employees can also enter the quantity of products being thrown out (like, for instance, hot dog buns) instead of exclusively the weight. In the end, the platform will figure out the cost as well as the carbon footprint of the overall waste, and over time, the patterns in the data will help the company implement changes.

“If we do see a significant amount of waste over a specific period of time–let’s say at 2:00 every day we’re wasting so many meatballs–then that says for us that we’re overproducing, and if we’re overproducing, then we can train our coworkers to minimize that waste,” Peter Ho, Ikea U.S. food sales leader, told Fast Company. 

Ikea began rolling out the initiative in stores in December 2016. By May 2017, 20 percent of its stores had smart scales and had reduced nearly 80,000 pounds of food waste, saving the company more than $1 million. It’s now in the process of implementing the system in all of its 400 stores, which serve 650 million customers a year. A co-worker survey performed at the stores showed that over 70 percent of Ikea's kitchen staff was proud of the initiative, and 50 percent began taking measures at home to decrease their personal food waste.

In the past, Ikea had its employees track food waste by hand in log books, but it was difficult to be accurate and efficient. With the new goal of reducing waste by 50 percent, it made sense to turn to technology. In the U.S., Ikea partnered with LeanPath to produce and tweak the design of the digital scale to better suit the company's specific needs. In Europe, Ikea uses similar technology in partnership with the company Winnow. 

"With the global reach of IKEA, we have a great opportunity to inspire people to think differently about food waste and incorporate sustainability into their everyday lives – true to the IKEA vision of creating a better everyday life," the company said in a press release.

NewsChina Launches World’s First Fully Electric Cargo Ship

China created a completely electric cargo ship that can travel about 50 miles per charge, and later charge while it’s being unloaded. This new vessel represents a new standard for electric shipbuilders, as it's the first of its kind. 

4 days ago
NewsHonda Tests Vehicle-To-Grid Capabilities For Electric Cars In Germany

Honda is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology by adding it to their charging station at the Offenbach headquarters. The trial run, which aims to provide more efficient renewable energy, will allow them to determine if they'll be adding the feature to future EVs.

5 days ago
FoodFrance Tops Sustainability Charts For Reducing Food Waste

A study that examines how well countries advocate for and enact food waste policies has found that France is leading the world when it comes to ending food waste. The U.S. ranked number 24. 

5 days ago
NewsCandy Giant 'Mars' Wants To Cut Deforestation From Supply Chain

Mars, the candy giant, is looking to team up with others -- even competitors -- in an effort to thwart issues like deforestation and human rights abuse. This is in addition to the $1 billion they've spent on their own sustainability program.

5 days ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our daily newsletter
Quantcast