As children, it’s drummed into us that wasting food is a Very Bad Thing. Most of us will have memories of sitting at our parents’ kitchen table, staring woefully down at a plate of peas while they reminded us – yet again – that “there are people starving in the world, you know”.
But as adults, many of us are remarkably cavalier about food waste. Every year, an estimated 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away in the UK, with Britain wasting more than any other European country.
Now, a new app is hoping to change that. Called Too Good To Go, it matches hungry users with restaurants selling food they’d otherwise have binned – at dramatically cut prices.
Too Good To Go arrived in Brighton, Leeds and Manchester earlier this year, and is now launching in London. Think Tinder – except rather than a guy doing finger guns next to a comatose tiger, you’ll be matched with local restaurants selling amazing dishes for between £2 and £3.80.
Users pay with a credit card and collect food (served in a sustainable box, natch) from the restaurant or café during a designated time slot, usually after the lunch and dinner rush or as they close for the evening.
The team behind the app say it will allow restaurants to make a bit of extra money, as well as reducing the amount of food they throw away.
Too Good To Go’s co-founder, Chris Wilson, told the Evening Standard that 95 London restaurants have currently signed up to the app.
“Most of the places tend to be independent or just small chains because it is really hard to crack the big companies,” he said. “It is the bigger chains that have the large amount of food waste, but it is hard to even speak to the right people there.”
While households account for most thrown-away food, a 2010 report found that UK restaurants bin around 600,000 tonnes of food a year.
Mindful of this, some UK food businesses have taken encouraging steps to reduce the amount of waste they create. With the patronage of Jamie Oliver, Asda now sells ‘wonky veg’ at knock-down prices, rather than chucking misshapen potatoes and carrots straight in the bin.
Silo, meanwhile, is the UK’s first and only zero-waste restaurant. All leftover food at this legendary Brighton eatery is recycled and composted; guests drink alcohol brewed from foraged plants, sit on repurposed furniture, and eat off plates made from recycled plastic bags.