Ikea saves $1M by tackling food waste

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When I wrote about beer made from recycled bread, I noted with surprise that reducing food waste has been ranked as the #3 climate solution in Paul Hawken’s Drawdown. I mean, I knew it was a moral imperative and a common sense priority—but the fact that cutting our food waste could be one of the most important ways to help save our civilization had somewhat passed me by.

It’s not just our civilization it can save though, either. Reducing our food waste could save an awful lot of money too.

In fact New York Post reports that Ikea has already saved $1M thanks to its "Food is Precious" initiative, a project which only got started in December, and which is currently just running in 20% of its stores. Using a "smart scale solution", cafeteria workers have been asked to measure food that’s ending up in trash cans, and then are using that data to identify new and innovative ways to cut back on waste. The result, says the post, is 79,000 metric tons reduced and a financial savings of more than $981,000, secured primarily by better adjusting the amount of food being cooked to the level of expected demand. Given the fact that the company aims to halve its food waste across all stores by 2020, I suspect this may be a sign of bigger, better things to come.

In a related article over at Environmental Leader, it seems that Ikea is not alone in seeing positive financial returns. In fact, research by the World Resources Institute suggests that almost every company investing in food waste reduction saw a positive return on their investment, with more than half seeing a 14-fold return on every dollar spent!

So it seems that throwing valuable stuff away that took resources to grow costs us money. Who could have possibly known?