Posted on September 18th, 2014
Every year, more than 600,000 tonnes of food is wasted in UK hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants. Plate Gain is a simple technological innovation that will help the hospitality sector automate waste monitoring, as recommended by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Automating the capturing of food waste data is more labour efficient, energy efficient, accurate, affordable and scalable than existing food waste solutions. We believe that Plate Gain is a real game changer.
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 600,000 tonnes of food is wasted in the UK hospitality industry every year. Some of this is made up of things like peelings, cores and bones, but the majority is (or once was) perfectly good food. WRAP research indicates that by not throwing away good food (and diverting food waste such as peelings, bones etc. to anaerobic digestion) pubs restaurants and hotels in the UK could save more than £720 million a year.
Around a third of this waste is food left on plates by consumers, which amounts to 200,000 tonnes with a value of £235 million.
To reduce this "plate waste", WRAP recommend benchmarking current waste by weighing and categorising all plate waste over the course of a week. Food premises can then experiment with measures such as reducing portion sizes, and at a later date repeat the benchmarking process to see if waste has been reduced.
The problem with WRAP's recommendation is that it is a labour-intensive process that is slow, costly in staff time and error-prone, particularly at busy times.
The solution is to automate the weighing and categorisation process. By taking digital photograph of the plate as food is scraped into bins, Plate Gain uses secure cloud-based image processing technology to identify the food. By weighing the bin using electronic scales, Plate Gain ascertains its weight and approximate value.
Plate Gain’s potential impact on the hospitality sector is both financial and repetitional. Plate Gain saves restaurants money by reducing the purchase and preparation costs of food that would otherwise be wasted. It is much cheaper than alternative manual processes. It is more accurate and can be run continuously. Reductions in plate waste are good for the brand in terms of corporate social responsibility. Unlike Plate Gain’s competitors, the system requires no change in staff behaviour so training costs are minimised. Airlines and cruise ships may realise additional costs savings through reduced fuel consumption as food weight is reduced.
The revenue model is a monthly subscription with free hardware. Additionally, Plate Gain has the option to sell consulting services and anonymised data. Plate Gain’s entry strategy is to target commercial food businesses and public sector food premises. Revenues from commercial food businesses, such as restaurants and pubs, will be used to subsidise public sector organisations such as schools and prisons.
The social impact is reduced food waste, leading to reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transport and landfill sources. These and other factors will become increasingly important as the global population approaches a peak of 9.5 billion people around 2050.