Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Green Sense Tour goes Food Waste

Ertvelde, May 2013. I’m climbing over the fence of a supermarket in my village. Two black containers in front of me. Amazed I look at their content. Both of them are full of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, bread, dairy products and even chocolate. Some of the fruits are a bit too ripe, the bread is one day old, the chocolate passed its due date. The bigger part of this food is still perfect for human consumption. I wish I had taken a bigger bag to save more of this food, which will be wasted the next day.

The next weeks and months my indignation about food waste grows. I keep thinking about a structural solution for all this food getting wasted every day. I bump into Rubies in the Rubble, a social enterprise in London making jam from would-be wasted fruits while employing long-term unemployed people. ‘Brilliant! Someone is doing this already, so it is possible!’ I consider starting a similar business right away in Belgium. In the end I decide to start my Green Sense Tour to gain experience and ideas.

May 2014. After 8 months of travelling, the idea of Rubies in the Rubble is still on my mind. I get in contact with the ladies of Confitures Re-Belles from Paris. Inspired by their involvement in Disco Soupe, they too are starting a social business to make jam from would-be wasted fruits. We decide that I will help them out with their challenges. While working with them I notice that they can advance hugely by gaining inspiration from existing Food Waste Entrepreneurs.

Food Waste Entrepreneurs? Yes, all around Europe more and more social entrepreneurs see food waste as an opportunity - check out the map hereunder to see who and where they are. Some examples. Snact uses surplus fruits to make healthy snacks. STAM, the first outlet grocery of the Netherlands, resells all kinds of products which other shops cannot sell anymore at lower prices. The Real Junk Food Project, has a restaurant running 100% on food waste and volunteers; people pay as they can. And there are many more in Europe and abroad – check out the map for an overview.

While talking to these food waste entrepreneurs, I notice that these people are pioneering. They are experimenting with business models, recipes and ways to convey their message. Some of them struggle with one aspect of their business whereas others already found a solution to those challenges. There’s a lot of room to learn from one another.

That’s how the idea came to unite food waste entrepreneurs in a learning network. This network will be a platform for food waste entrepreneurs to exchange best practices, collaborate and increase their pace of development. There could be many other potential functions and benefits of such a network like a food waste label, lobbying, common sourcing of food waste, a European accelerator to support food waste entrepreneurs etc.

Check out the map of Food Waste Entrepreneurs in Europe. Legenda. Green=movements; red=entrepreneurs.

Thus I’m starting the next adventure: setting up a network of Food Waste Entrepreneurs. The first step: travelling through Europe to meet all these amazing food waste heroes. Green Sense Tour goes Food Waste. On my itinerary: UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Swiss and France. It’s amazing to see the idealism, motivation and genuine concern of the entrepreneurs. It’s inspiring to see how they turn waste into an opportunity.

Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to check out the Food Waste Entrepreneurs I meet on my travels.


Note December 2014: In the meanwhile, I have in effect started the Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network which aims to connect food surplus entrepreneurs, charities and changemakers in order to facilitate exchange and collaboration. Read more on our website, Facebook and Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment