How One App Is Addressing Food Waste in Restaurants

Too Good To Go connects consumers with restaurants and grocery stores that have a surplus of food.

Food is being wasted at an alarming rate around the world due to it being thrown away by retailers and consumers alike. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated about 30-40% of our food supply goes to waste.

The creators of one app are working to reduce that number across the country. Too Good To Go is a one-of-its-kind food pickup app that connects people with restaurants and grocery stores that have a surplus of food. The app currently operates in approx a dozen U.S. cities.

Here’s how it works: A person browses the app’s list of participating restaurants and grocery stores then selects which one they would like a “surprise bag” from.

Credit: NowThis

The bags are discounted for one-third of the price. “Surprise bags range all over the map, so you could get a dozen bagels, you could get three pints of gelato, you could get loaves of bread, cups of soup, sandwiches,” Too Good To Go’s Head of Marketing, Claire Oliverson, told NowThis. “It really is genuinely a surprise, and we see such a great reaction to that surprise.”

Food waste is also a big contributor to the climate crisis, from generating CO2 during the production stage, to creating methane when it ends up in landfills. The EPA estimates that, in the U.S. alone, food waste produces emissions equivalent to 42 coal-fired power plants.

“About 25% of global freshwater is actually used to produce food that's never even eaten,” said Oliverson. “We really wanted to take a positive angle and a really solution-oriented angle and create a solution that's fun, and it's easy, and it's delicious.”

“I think the impact we're seeing is immense, and the partners really love it,” said Oliverson. “Rather than throwing that food away that they put so much love and energy into, they now put it in a surprise bag … A lot of the time, it's actually a new customer who has never been to that business before, and we save that CO2.”