Google has a strong history of leveraging technology to drastically change human behavior. In recent years, headlines have been flooded with concepts that at once time seemed impossible: driverless cars and high-tech Google Glass. Now, the tech monarch has its sights set on using technology to help curb food waste at home.
In a recent partnership with Sainsbury — a grocery chain in the United Kingdom — Google has released Sainsbury Food Rescue, a new mobile and Web application tool that provides users with ideas for leftover food.
The idea for the interactive site came from Google data that showed search queries for “leftovers” surged by one-third in comparison to last year — 64 percent of the searches deriving from mobile devises.
The interactive tool sets itself apart from second-life recipe sites with the use of Google’s voice recognition feature.
Mobile and Web users will be able to speak up to nine ingredients in to their smartphone or desktop and in return will be presented with recipes inspired by the tool’s more than 1,200 choices for simple snacks, dinner parties and more.
Sarah Warby, marketing director for Sainsbury, had this to say to EdieWaste:
“We know that confidence and know-how can really help people reduce the amount of food they throw away. We’ve created Sainsbury’s Food Rescue with Google to inspire people to turn the food items they already have into something delicious. And over the months ahead we’ll be able to see how much food and money British households are saving by using Sainsbury’s Food Rescue, as well as the popular ways to save.”
The tool will also allow customers to input the amount of food they rescue and how much they save by repurposing their meals. The results will feed into a leaderboard to collectively track how much food and money has been saved in different cities and regions.
The new tool, though helpful for growing consumer consciousness about saving money and resources and a big win for Sainsbury who reached their zero-waste goal last year, is a small drop in the bucket of the enormous global food waste problem at hand.
The Environmental Food Crisis, a report released by the United Nations Environmental Programme, provides substantial data that suggests that roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. This waste is a culmination of production, energy and transportation inefficiencies that have yet to be addressed on a large scale. Much of the overall food waste issue starts before ever reaching the grocery store.
While we bestow recognition to Google and Sainsbury for developing a consumer-based approach tool to help curb food waste at the consumer level, perhaps they will be encouraged to pursue those same energies and technologies to address the global food waste challenge by making and/or influencing change at the agricultural development level.
Image Screen Capture of Sainsbury Food Rescue