Retail giant IKEA has installed a “smart scale solution” in 20% of its stores in an effort to curb food waste. The system, being rolled out in the company’s restaurants and food markets, is made up of a touch screen and floor scale holding a waste bin that measures food waste. This allows IKEA employees to track how much food is being wasted and to find new ways to prevent such waste. The company says that the 84 stores that had implemented the system reduced food waste by 79,000 metric tons and saving more than $981,000, according to an IKEA spokesperson (via the New York Post).
The overall goal, IKEA says, is to cut food waste in IKEA food operations by 50% by the end of August 2020. IKEA says that about a third of all food harvested or produced around the world is lost or thrown away, equaling about 1.3 billion metric tons of food waste per year.
Reducing food waste makes good business sense, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). After evaluating cost and benefit data for 1,200 business sites across 700 companies in 17 countries, the WRI found that nearly every company had a positive return on their investments when they initiated efforts to curb food loss and waste in operations. Half realized a 14-fold or greater return. “Simply put, for every $1 invested in things like training staff to lose less food in production, $14 or more were saved,” according to the WRI website.
Consumers are becoming aware of the magnitude and cost of wasted food, according to Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of food loss and waste with WRI. With a heightened awareness about how much food waste is costing them, consumers will be increasingly demanding indications that supermarkets are making efforts to stem the tide of such waste.