20 Mar 2020
Barcelona, Spain
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

Upon reading about a business that markets leftover food, 90s sitcom fans will inevitably think of Seinfeld’s Elaine and her ill-fated quest to give away muffins (minus the best part, of course — the muffin top). Thankfully, far more principled people than Elaine work for Too Good To Go, a multinational enterprise that connects consumers with surplus, high-quality food. 

Too Good To Go’s central idea is that, every single day, businesses throw away food that would make a perfectly good meal for someone. The organisation’s mobile app allows users to buy leftover food from restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets. In this way, the user’s meal is diverted from joining the 1.4 billion tons of food waste generated globally every year.

Within just three years, Too Good To Go has expanded its operations to 15 countries in Europe and North America. Excitingly, this growth is unlikely to stop any time soon, given Too Good To Go’s commitment to reinvesting profits into more waste-saving activities. “Our ambition is to lead the way in using business as a force for good,” said Helena Calvo, an official “food waste warrior” in the Barcelona branch.

Although Too Good To Go has now found its way to sunny Catalonia, the enterprise traces its origins to a fancy hotel, somewhere in Copenhagen. While studying abroad, Too Good To Go’s founders noticed that the hotel’s lavish buffet meal ended up in rubbish bins each night. 

The students wondered how this situation made sense, either environmentally or economically: why waste edible (not to mention, delicious) food when there are people in need of affordable dining options? 

This conundrum gave rise to the “win-win” business model of Too Good To Go, which operates on levels of financial and sustainability. Economically, eateries sell food that they once wrote off as a loss, while consumers get a tasty meal at an even tastier price. Environmentally, both parties are directly supporting a more sustainable, less wasteful supply chain of food.

Rightfully, Too Good To Go is proud of this simple, powerful idea’s ever-increasing impact. The website displays impressive statistics on the number of “meals saved” (34.6 milion), users of the mobile app (21.8 million), and eatery partners (42,975).

Maintenance of the business does require hard work from Too Good To Go’s staff members. Calvo says that all food sold passes the relevant health safety standards, which relies on constant cooperation between Too Good To Go and each of its business partners.

According to Calvo, Too Good To Go’s biggest challenge is not merely convincing people that surplus food can be edible, tasty and nutritious — many remain unaware of how enormous food waste’s environmental toll is. “We need to make the wider public understand that food waste is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” said Calvo. “It requires coordinated action from everyone.”

Not one to shy away from responsibility (or statistical indicators!), Too Good To Go has set ambitious objectives for its Movement Against Food Waste, which include working with 75,000 businesses and impacting regulations in at least five countries.

The project has never been more urgent, at a time when the world’s amount of food waste could feed up to 2 billion people each year. From humble origins, Too Good To Go hopes to divert more and more food away from the gaping mouths of landfill sites, and into those of hungry humans.

 

Learn more about Too Good To Go through the website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Too Good To Go

David Wood is a freelance writer based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
Diners, businesses and the environment all win under leftover food scheme | The Switchers
Too Good To Go Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management
Follow us: