Cutting Food Waste With Tools in the AI Environment

food vegetable green store fresh shelf market shop grocery supermarket t20 2WA9WP Cutting Food Waste With Tools in the AI Environment

Eliminating Food Waste with Digital Technologies

Innovative technologies, driven by AI, are becoming pivotal in tackling the global food waste crisis and its impacts on the environment.

However hard we try not to, we all waste food. There are many reasons – you might have picky-eaters for children, you might find yourself continually sailing way past the use-by dates in the fridge. Sometimes, the leftovers are just too much. (Christmas: We’re looking at you!)

But, with nearly 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted annually, we stand at the crossroads of an opportunity for radical transformation. Every individual across the globe, on average, disposes of 74 kg (163 lbs) of food each year, whereas hunger and undernourishment plague two billion people. There is an urgent need to address this imbalance, echoing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that call for halving global food waste by 2030.

But it’s not just your children and your fridge to blame – there’s considerable food waste long before it gets to your kitchen.

According to the non-profit Re-Fed, over a third of fresh produce entering the supply chain never reaches our plates. Dairy products and prepared meals also contribute significantly to food waste. The problem isn’t isolated to consumers’ habits alone; food waste pervades the entire supply chain, from farming to transportation, to retail.

One AI-driven initiative is poised to disrupt this trend. The tech start-up, Wasteless, endorsed by the World Economic Forum’s UpLink crowdsourcing platform, leverages artificial intelligence to optimize retail pricing strategies for perishable goods. As described by the World Economic Forum, Wasteless offers a unique approach to the “markdown optimization” challenge that retailers face with products nearing their expiry date.

The company’s AI systems introduce dynamic pricing for perishable products, allowing costs to decrease as these items approach their “best-before” date. This simple yet powerful idea targets both waste reduction and higher revenues. Wasteless has reported promising results from their pilot program with a Spanish retailer, documenting a significant 32.7% reduction in overall waste.

Wasteless’s ambition doesn’t stop there; their machine learning algorithms continue to evolve, aiming for an 80% decrease in food waste. This Israel and Netherlands-based start-up was among the select few included in The Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2021, an Accenture initiative that operates in partnership with Ecolab, Anglo American, Schneider Electric, and the UpLink platform.

However, understanding and quantifying the impact of food waste extends beyond mere numbers. The UN Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index 2021 highlights the challenge of generating accurate, traceable, and globally comparable measurements of food waste. The effect of food waste is multifaceted, directly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, when discarded into landfill sites.

The AI environment in the food industry can be instrumental in mitigating these impacts. Through AI, we can improve the traceability of food waste, enabling accurate measures and comparisons globally. Moreover, it’s crucial to remember the indirect environmental costs of food waste. Each stage of food production, from growing to processing, expends considerable energy, water, and other resources while negatively impacting biodiversity. Therefore, wasting food is a twofold tragedy – loss of valuable resources and increased greenhouse emissions.

In this context, the World Economic Forum underscores the significance of AI in the environmental sustainability of the food industry. AI technologies like Wasteless not only reduce food waste and increase economic efficiency, but also alleviate environmental impacts, making them vital tools in the fight against climate change.

As we strive to meet the UN’s goal of halving global food waste by 2030, AI’s role in the environmental sustainability of the food industry becomes increasingly prominent. And while tackling this global crisis is challenging, AI presents us with an opportunity for significant change – reducing waste, conserving resources, and transforming our food systems to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The AI environment in the food industry is set to revolutionize our approach to environmental sustainability.

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