From an app that redistributes restaurant leftovers to a charity that repurposes hotel toiletries, three projects that turn waste into something useful
1. The app that stops catering leftovers going to waste
Hate food waste? Love quality cheap eats? A food redistribution app that has launched in London might just be to your taste. The Karma app, which is free to download, targets restaurant leftovers. It allows eateries to advertise unsold meals to registered app users, who get to eat delicious takeaway dinners at discount prices.
Founded in Sweden in 2016, Karma has more than 1,000 restaurants and 250,000 diners on its books in the two countries combined. “The founders realised how huge the problem of surplus food was in the food industry and how much people appreciate buying great food for less,” said Alex Spain from Karma.
With its booming restaurant scene and substantial waste problem, the English capital seemed like an obvious place to take the app abroad, he said. Could it help slash the UK’s 10m tonnes of food binned each year?
2. The network that brightens up communities using spare paint
Research suggests that an average 17 tins of paint languish in every UK household, many of which are part-used and likely to spoil. “We estimate that up to 50m litres of paint are wasted each year, more than half of which is usable,” said Sarah Burns of Community RePaint. The organisation collects surplus paint and redistributes it to cash-strapped community groups at affordable prices. The paint freshens up all sorts of grassroots projects, from village halls to shared gardens.
Founded in 1993, the network recently opened two ‘remanufacturing’ centres – in Cambridgeshire and Merseyside. They reprocess large quantities of leftover paint into standard colours. “Last year our schemes collected more than 432,000 litres of paint,” said Burns. “More than 300,000 litres of this was diverted to local communities.” By 2020, the organisation aims to redistribute more than 1m litres.
3. The charity using leftover hotel toiletries to improve sanitation
Ever wondered what happens to those half-used bars of soap and bottles of shampoo left behind by hotel guests? Well, the vast majority end up in landfill. In fact, research suggests the mid-to-high range sector of the UK hospitality industry throws away more than 70m bars of soap and 200m travel-sized toiletries each year. Meanwhile, millions of people worldwide don’t have access to sanitation.
Cue the Clean Conscience charity, which collects these leftover toiletries and diverts them to impoverished communities in the UK and abroad. All unopened bottles of shampoo and shower gel collected are redistributed to UK charities, while part-used bars of soap are cleaned, mashed up and shipped to a facility in India, where the pulp is turned back into soap.