The three-part series title is taken from the classic 1973 Hindi film, which in English translates as; Food, Clothing and Shelter. The bare necessities of life. Every week for the past year Sreepriya Sreedharan from Circular Business Podcast and Piyush Dhawan from the Circular Collective discuss examples of Circular Economy from across the Globe and analyse whether this would make sense in an emerging economy context. In this three-part series, we have collated examples from our Weekly Gupshup. This week we talk about five examples that are addressing Food or Roti (in Hindi).
From the perspective of food sustainability, India today is self-sufficient in terms of most cereals but not quite there for other essentials such as pulses. Also, we are yet to fully address the challenges related to fair access to food. On top of this food, wastage is an alarming issue in India. A 2018 report by CSR journal suggests that cumulatively India wastes as much food as the United Kingdom consumes. Let us take a better analogy, look at our grand weddings, canteens, hotels, social & family functions & even households- we spew out SO MUCH FOOD! But why should we bother? Founded out of London in 2013, Winnow’s technology so far has constituted a set of scales that sit beneath a food waste bin, with staff using a touchscreen display above it to tell the system what type of food they’ve just thrown away.
Data collected in over 1,000 kitchens using Winnow shows that an average kitchen would waste between 5 to 15 per cent of the food they purchase. This isn’t because chefs want to waste food, but because of a lack of visibility into what is being wasted. Kitchens that use Winnow tend to see between a 40 to 70 per cent reduction in food waste within 6 to 12 months of using the system. This equates to driving food cost savings between 2 to 8 per cent, improving margins whilst doing the right thing. Chefs using Winnow are also saving over US$42 million in reduced food purchasing costs. This is equal to 36 million meals and a total of 61,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Just imagine the scale of transformation, if all the commercial kitchens in India adopt and integrate their kitchens with this AI. What if they could easily review “what all has been thrown away in the previous day” before beginning their morning meetings?
Convenience in accessing data makes life easy and helps measure progress efficiently. Because what gets measured, gets managed. Cutting food wastes in half can dramatically improve profitability in the hospitality sector. Thereby making technologies like Winnow economically attractive and environmentally conscious.
Listen to our podcast on Winnow below
One day in 2012, James Rogers was driving home through the lush California farmlands while he was listening to a podcast about global hunger. He wondered: how could so many people be hungry when there was such an abundance of food growing and seeds that were so easy to spread? And if so many were hungry, how could so much of this abundance be going to waste? Inspired by nature’s own methods of preservation, he made it his mission to build a barrier that could be applied to fruits and vegetables using edible materials that could slow down the rate of spoilage.
Apeel is an AgTech (a startup that combines agriculture and technology) that developed a substance, transparent and flavourless, to protect fruits and vegetables. The idea is to cover fresh products with a second “skin”, a peel that allows to double or triple their life. This substance reduces the loss of water and the oxidation of the products, slowing their maturation and extending their expiry date.
For growers, suppliers, and retailers, Apeel is a postharvest solution that creates an optimal microclimate inside every piece of produce, which leads to extended shelf life and transportability —with reduced reliance on refrigeration and a controlled atmosphere.
Apeel’s technology has the potential to reduce losses in both scenarios, enabling more produce to reach markets in the absence of the cold chain and reducing retail and consumer waste by providing more time to consume the produce at its ripe condition. By reducing loss and waste throughout the produce supply chain, the Apeel technology can effectively increase yields across the supply chain, simultaneously reducing the embodied emissions and resource consumption associated with that otherwise wasted food. This "second skin" has already reduced waste by more than half in supermarkets that have sprayed it on their apples, asparagus and lemons. Apeel has recently raised $250 M dollars in a round of investments, becoming a real “unicorn”. Most of them came from investors like Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, and Rock Creek Group.
Listen to our podcast on Apeel below
Weekly Gupshup with the Circular Collective These are excerpts from weekly podcast series where Sreepriya and Piyush bring to you amazing examples from around the globe in the circular economy, where India and our citizens can take inspiration from
When was the last time you bought bread? Some of us did it this morning. Do you remember those days when you had to make a choice between bread packets with 3 days to expiry v/s 1 day? I’m sure many of us have been there done that and left the near expiry bread packs out of your cart. Ever wondered what happens to that batch of abandoned products? Data suggests that about 80% of edible wastes from grocery stores in India reach the bin post expiry and a negligible amount gets donated in real-time.
The fundamental question is Why is bread wasted? Bakeries overproduce to ensure they’ll have enough stock for their customers. It’s a little unpredictable so they inevitably have loaves left at the end of the day. Supermarkets want shelves to always be full and dispose of edible bread that is past the sell-by or best-before date – both indicators of quality, not safety. Sandwich manufacturers discard the heel end of loaves because we don’t eat crusts. So, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as baking less bread – we’ve got to change consumer expectations of having abundant quantities of day-fresh bread.
The toast was founded in 2015 by Toastmaster Tristram Stuart. He’s an award-winning author and campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of food production. The oldest surviving beer recipe, documented by the ancient Mesopotamians, features bread as a key ingredient. Discarded bread can be used to replace a third of the malted grain used in beer brewing. Toast started by collecting surplus bread from delis, bakeries and sandwich makers. It’s then incorporated into the brewing process with malted barley, hops, yeast and water. It doesn’t take any special technology or space-age methods, but this simple switch can replace around a third of the malted barley used for beer. Toast also offers its beverages in kegs and is the only beer brand to offer packaging-free beer through Waitrose’s “Unpacked” offering. It additionally tells consumers where plastics are hard to replace in its value chain, and why
Listen to our podcast on Toast below
During my management classes, I used to learn about wicked problems. One such example is that of a retail store! Consider this, If a retailer chooses low prices today, inventory will sell faster, but there might not be enough left for future periods. On the other hand, if prices are set high, the retailer sells less now but carries over more inventory to the next period.
Data suggests that 40% of the food on the shelf never gets eaten. Approximately one-third of all food produced globally is wasted or lost along supply chains every year…Producing food that will be lost or wasted is such a waste of time, labour, money, land, energy, and water. I came across a new concept by the name of Dynamic programming which is a mathematical technique developed in order to solve these types of problems.
Enters Wasteless which provides an all-in-one solution to reduce food waste and increase perishable food profit by dynamically pricing items with a shorter expiration date at their optimal price point. Wasteless is helping supermarkets and online grocery stores recapture the full value of their perishable products and reduce food waste through AI-powered dynamic pricing. Now I really wanted to see this in action and from what I read is that retail stores are able to reduce waste by around 39% and increase top-line revenues by 6%.
This is a win-win-win-win situation!
With this, the retailer is able to increase revenues!
By selling products instead of throwing them away and decreasing your average markdown, you can significantly boost your net margin.
Improve fresh product rotation and optimize shelf space productivity for slow-selling products
And thereby improved Shopping experience!
Listen to our podcast on Wasteless below
Based on the principles of polyculture, Regenerative ocean farming by GreenWave works to mimic the diversity of ocean reefs by growing a mix of species that act in sync and nourish each other to revive ecosystems. They grow higher yields of shellfish & seaweeds over 20 acres with a carbon footprint way lesser than mainland counterparts. Ocean farming eliminates the need for freshwater and zero use of fertilizers and feeds. The yield is used for food, fertilizer, animal feed, bioplastics, and more.
Each crop plays a vital role. For example, a single adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day. Combined with the environmental benefits of seaweed, one can now turn regenerative ocean farms into climate solution powerhouses and stack benefits by growing seaweed and shellfish together. Regenerative ocean farms are safe havens for marine life as they improve water quality and provide habitats that foster biodiversity and support the health of an array of aquatic species.
What fascinates us, even more, is their effort to propagate the knowledge to more fishermen and transform them into ocean farmers. GreenWave’s 10-year goal is to provide training, tools, and support to a baseline of 10,000 regenerative ocean farmers to catalyze the planting of 1 million acres and yield meaningful economic and climate impacts. To scale, GreenWave cultivates a "Regenerative Reef" model in new regions. Each Reef includes 25 to 50 regenerative ocean farms, a land-based hatchery and processing hub, and a ring of institutional buyers and entrepreneurs developing value-added products. These Reefs are then replicated up and down coastlines. More like a turn-key solution for regenerative farming. All in all, I think GreenWave is building a foundation for a new food system by keeping the environment, jobs revival and justice at the centre of their seafood platter.
Listen to our podcast on Greenwave below
About the Author
Piyush Dhawan (LinkedIn) is the co-founder of the Circular Collective was awarded the prestigious German Chancellor Fellowship last year to work on the topic of Circular Economy. He has for the past decade been working with Bilaterals and Multilaterals on a range of topics including business and biodiversity, Vision 2030 SDGs and Future of Indian Cities.
Sreepriya Sridharan (LinkedIn) She is your host & dost @Circular Business Podcast, a series that gives you a unique perspective on the circular economy from the Indian context. Inspired by the Friday’s For Future movement, in August 2020, amidst the pandemic uncertainties, she chose to be an environmentally conscious citizen and has dedicated her life to making this planet a better place every day. Circular economy wooed her and resonated with her so much that her deep dive into research around this topic made her want to share its possibilities with other seekers who are on a similar journey, in a way creating a bridge to make their leap faster. She is your go-to person for creating a convincing pitch for your eco-conscious business. Storytelling, finding solutions and building a network of an impact-driven community is her arsenal for change.