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Recycling food with FoodCloud

Food shelf, photo by Pixabay

We’re all guilty of going to the fridge and finding that bell pepper from last week that we only ate half of. It’s going off now so we throw it in the bin (the skip hire service in Uxbridge makes sure that everything that is recyclable is separated from the rest so that its processing can be easier) and feel annoyed at the 35 cent or so we just wasted. But most of us fail to think about the production resources that we’ve just wasted.

It is estimated that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted per year. Roughly 300 million barrels of oil is used to produce this wasted food. In Ireland alone, approximately 1 million tonnes of food is thrown out by Irish consumers and businesses every year.

FoodCloud is “a social enterprise that connects food businesses that have large volumes of surplus food, such as farms, manufacturers and distributors, to charities that need it”. FoodCloud was founded by Aoibhinn O’Brien and Iseult Ward in 2013. They partnered with Tesco in 2013 and have gone from strength to strength since then.

Isseult Ward, photo by Adrian Langtry

FoodCloud receives mostly “surplus food” in donations from different shops. Co-Founder Iseult Ward describes this surplus food as “perfectly good food that any of us could have ended up buying, but for various reasons it did not end up on a shelf or in our homes”. It could be food that wasn’t sold on a particular day or it could be down to a manufacturing issue (perhaps there’s an incorrect spelling on the packaging but the produce is perfect). 

Rescue Run Steps
Rescue Run Steps, photo by Bethany Langham

When the food is delivered to a FoodCloud hub, it is quality checked with the appropriate scales to make sure it is within the sell-by date, is the correct weight and has been transported at the correct temperature. Every employee is “trained in and responsible for food safety”. The company also employs a Food Safety Officer. Each day there is food booked to be taken on a delivery run to registered charities. FoodCloud also conducts ‘Rescue Runs’ which is a combination of food from the hub and additional daily donations from local shops registered on the FoodCloud app.

FoodCloud is a not-for profit organisation which means that the profits are put back into the company each year. In 2014, between operational income, donations, grants and schemes, the company earned €111,178. Its total expenditure was €51,511 leaving it with €59,667 to invest in the company. In 2018 the total income of FoodCloud had increased to nearly €2.2 million. Its total expenditures amounted to just over €1.6 million which left it with a net surplus of €497,373.

Yearly Income 2014-2018
Yearly Income 2014-2018, chart by Bethany Langham

To date 31,499 tonnes of food has been redistributed to charities and community groups using the FoodCloud app and redistribution networks, which is the equivalent of “100,798 tonnes of CO2”.

Do you think all restaurants and food shops should be more socially responsible? Let us know in the comments section.

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