1. Every year in the United States, up to 40% of food is thrown away.
2. That’s equivalent to about $165 billion wasted by grocery stores, restaurants, and households.
This poses not only a financial burden but also an environmental one: Disposed food is the “single largest type of waste entering our landfills,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. In New York City alone, 6.5 million pounds of food are chucked every day.
That’s 24 full subway cars speeding towards the dump. Every. Single. Day.
4. A new smartphone app called PareUp aims to fix this issue by letting you know which grocery stores, coffee shops, and juice bars have excess food to sell at a discount.
5. There is nothing wrong with most food retailers dispose of, co-founder Margaret Tung told BuzzFeed.
Supermarkets alone waste almost $15 billion in food each year, primarily due to overstocking or aesthetic imperfections. If produce is slightly misshapen or a sell-by date is approaching but has not yet arrived, retailers often dispose of these products to maintain brand image and make room for newer goods, according to Tung.
6. In these scenarios, the food is still perfectly fine to eat.
And, as French supermarket Intermarché proved with their recent promotion of “inglorious” fruits and vegetables, people are perfectly happy to buy ugly produce — if you market it the right way.
7. Meanwhile, food banks face rigid restrictions on the amount and type of excess food they can accept.
Donations to food banks are subject to budgetary concerns, food safety guidelines, and “pick-up minimums,” which mandate that trucks only pick up donations over a certain threshold. Prepared food vendors like bakeries and juice bars have a particularly difficult time donating excess items because of transportation and health regulations, according to Tung.
8. PareUp connects that excess supply to consumer demand like this:
9. Step 1: Participating vendors list their extra foods at discounts ranging from 25 to 75% on the app.
10. Step 2: Using your smartphone, you browse discounted items from stores nearby and select the ones you want.
1. Make more money selling excess food that they could not have donated anyway.
2. And receive a public image boost by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, something Tung refers to as the “green halo.”
13. And you get your favorite prepared foods and snacks at an average of 50% off.
14. PareUp will be testing with Beta users in late August, and the app will be available this September for New York City consumers. If their controlled launch is successful, the team hopes to expand to other American cities soon.
“I think the way that our food system is set-up, there will always be some degree of excess,” Tung said. “Our goal is to get that to people who want it.”