You now have one more reason to love IKEA. By 2020, the Swedish company plans to cut food waste by 50% at its stores — including its restaurants and smaller bistros. To accomplish this, employees will use digital scales to record the type and weight of food sent to the bin. In turn, they will learn the cost of the discarded food and its carbon footprint. Over time, the data will help the company make big changes.
In the US and UK, between 30 and 40 percent of all food is tossed into landfills. This conundrum persists, despite the fact that 795 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each evening.
IKEA’s new initiative will not only reduce the amount of methane pumped into the atmosphere as a result of rotting produce, it will hopefully encourage other corporations to tackle food waste in their own spheres. Said Ylva Magnusson, communications manager for IKEA Food. “Our ambition is to work together to create positive change together with other organizations and companies.”
The new food waste system was launched in 2015 and rolled out to stores in December of 2016. By May 2017, 20 percent of IKEA stores had it installed. As a result, there has been a reduction in nearly 80,000 pounds of food waste. IKEA is now in the process of implementing the system in all of its 400 stores, which serve 650 million customers a year.
When an employee enters the type and weight of a food into the new system, they are also required to record why it was discarded. Options include overproduced, expired, spoiled or trimmings (such as the top of a tomato). The process takes seconds, but it will ultimately help the company’s restaurants become much more efficient.
As a result of the recorded data, IKEA’s menu is likely to change. If a certain part of an entree is regularly documented to be untouched, IKEA will take this into account to reduce food waste. Said Peter Ho, IKEA U.S. food sales leader, “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 co-workers to minimize that waste.”
For the initiative, IKEA partnered with LeanPath – the company that produces the digital scale. The company’s CEO, Andrew Shakman, said, “The moment you start measuring with technology you begin to change awareness levels and you cause people to start to think differently. Whereas in the past they could just throw something in the garbage, now they have to stop and for a moment; they have to record something about it. In that moment, you’re not just collecting data, you’re communicating your values.”
“What you’re doing is really engaging your front line and enlisting them as the change makers on this hugely important global issue,” he added. “They are uniquely positioned to resolve it.”
In addition to reducing food waste in its own kitchens, the company will also encourage consumers to waste less. This is critical, as the Swedish company estimates that “plate waste” makes up about 50 percent of total food waste. At a later date, IKEA will also work with suppliers to reduce waste upstream. As Fast Company reports, both plans fit in with IKEA’s larger vision to produce more renewable energy than it uses by 2020 and to offer more vegetarian products that have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional options.
Via Fast Company