Zero to Food Hero – Yindii creating change from the bottom up
A mobile application, Yindii, is on a mission to tackle food waste in Thailand, hoping to create change from the bottom up. The application sells surplus food, from bakeries, local merchants, hotels, and supermarkets, and which is very safe, high quality, and hygienic, but just needs to be eaten before the end of the day
Every night, millions of tons of food are thrown in the trash, gone to waste, creating a carbon footprint, cutting short our lives on this planet. The UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021 shows a total of 931 million tonnes of food is wasted each year. Nearly 570 million tonnes of this waste occurs at the household level.
Louis-Alban Batard-Dupre, the co-founder of the Food Rescue mission ‘Yindii’, said people are just beginning to get a grip on the environmental impact of wasted food, and someone somewhere is losing money, while people elsewhere are starving.
“30% of produced food will never be eaten, 30% of our crops will be burned because it will never arrive in someone’s stomach, and Yindii thought it was having an economic impact. Someone somewhere is losing money, but it’s also humanitarian because there are people that are starving and this food could really be redistributed and we’ve just started to grasp the environmental impact of food waste because now we have it in our mind,” Louis added.
Despite being one of the world’s most renowned food spots, Thailand’s food waste problem is on the rise, with tons of good, edible food being thrown out, despite its quality. Yindii is currently the only food delivery application that saves food from being thrown out.
So, when it comes to food waste, you could say this is a win-win-win situation, for customers, businesses, and the planet.
SO/ Bangkok Hotel is one of the eateries that joined the Yindii initiative. Its Executive Assistant Manager, Kittaneth Thavornsakcharoen, told Thai PBS that they received good feedback from staff, the chef, and the seller. Their food has been distributed rather than just being thrown away. People also got the chance to try their food and other products they made.
“It’s gradually getting better because customers have been really responsive to the application. Their sales have gone up, indicating that people are placing more importance on food waste,” said Kittaneth.
In 2016, France passed a law requiring retailers to not throw away leftover food but, instead, to donate it and, if not followed through, there would be a fine of up to 3,750 Euros, or about 140,00 Thai Baht. Cooperating retailers can also use the food they donate as a tax deduction.
Thailand doesn’t have such laws, despite the efforts of the private sector to find ways to donate food. Louis said that Yindii will, hopefully, create change from the bottom up.
He also emphasized that the carbon footprint of food waste leaves is much higher than we thought. If a third of produced food is never eaten, it means that 8-10% of the carbon footprint around the planet comes from food waste. In comparison, he said, that is 4 times the airline industry.
Food waste laws in Thailand might need to change to provide protection to retailers from lawsuits from spoiled food, or if there is an incentive such as tax reductions, these might attract more interest from the private sector to join the cause.
About 6%-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food, according to the World Wildlife Fund organization. It explained that when we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.
Right now, changes are being created from the bottom up. With more and more people beginning to be aware of the effects from food waste, hopefully, the next generation might just have a better chance of surviving climate change.
by Stephanie Adair