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

By Tessa Love

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.