War on waste

Consumers are increasingly frustrated with products that leave them to deal with large amounts of waste. It is now an expectation that products are easily recyclable/repurposable, and designed to involve less waste in the first place. Consumers are particularly hungry for help with how to reduce the amount of food they throw away. Meanwhile, ‘Repair’ has become the fourth ‘R’ in the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ mantra, with consumers seeking to fix broken products.

How is this sub-trend evolving?

How it was

Growing consumer desire for products that are easily recyclable/repurposable, and designed to involve less waste in the first place.

Nestle’s ‘smart pack’ coffee refills use less plastic and make consumers reuse their coffee jars.

How it is

.Increasing social unacceptability of waste at all levels; particular focus on food waste.

Public and private came together at the ‘Woodstock of Food Waste’ in California to explore how to achieve zero food waste.

How it will be

The war on waste becomes more social


Cool and cultural, social events and experiences spring up with positive waste-prevention as their key agenda. Disco Soupe is a German concept now seen around the world that brings people together to prepare and cook unsold fruit and veg from local markets – dating apps meet cooking schools, but all with responsible consumption at the core.

In-market examples from around the world

What: The Wasty App provides makeovers for leftovers.
Why: The aim of the content is to remind Australians that food wastage costs the nation $8bn annually with every household throwing out one in every five bags of food shopping each week. The first video turning leftover chicken into chicken ravioli has already attracted more than 115,000 views, 900 likes and over 400 shares, with the statistics climbing daily.
What: Farmsquare is an app that allows the Exchange of fruits and vegetables in search of avoid the food waste, mostly for those that have an urban garden.
Why: Urban gardens are a good way to eat more naturally in cities, but come with the problem of additional food waste as city dwellers don’t eat all that they produce.
What: A responsible restaurant with an eco-friendly way of sorting waste, letting patrons separate their leftovers thereby encouraging conscious engagement. From left food, all the way down to cutlery or crockery, or jars used.
Why: Differential waste disposal (recycling, etc.) is very new in Paris, and this is a good way of engaging people to change their behaviour long-term.
What: Toast Ale co. brews beer from bread that would be thrown away, other companies are exploring using onion peels & skin to create a caramelised onion base.
Why: Circular economy approaches that rethink all ‘waste’ as valuable natural ingredients. This highlights how we can design products that use the whole plant, with no waste and partner with other players in supply chain to repurpose their waste.
What: In summer 2015 French MPs came to a cross-party consensus and unanimously passed legislation banning supermarkets from throwing away, spoiling, or destroying unsold foods, instead mandating donation to charities or for animal feed. The law came into effect on February 3rd 2016.
Why: Supermarkets contribute 718000 tonnes to French food waste annually, a figure that spurred grassroots campaigns against poverty and food waste and eventually resulted in the nationwide law.
What: In February 2015, KFC introduced a limited edition edible coffee mug in the UK. Made from scent-infused cookie wrapped with sugar paper, the Scoff-ee cup is coated with a heat resistant white chocolate lining that melts when the mug is filled.
Why: KFC have proved that living responsibly can be tasty, and novel, too, appeasing consumers who are increasingly aware of the amount of waste that they generate.
What: “Trash Exchange” is a pop-up farmer’s market in Mexico City with a difference.
Why: Consumers can recycle their plastic waste in exchange for “green points.” The points are then redeemable in the farmers market, enabling locals to buy fresh produce from local famers at no direct cost. “Trash Exchange” tackles environmental waste issues and the nation’s health needs in one initiative.
What: Limbo is a Roomba-style house-cleaning robot powered by the dirt and grime it picks up. With a bompost (bacterial compost) bin, it uses a process called Microbial Electrolysis to convert bacteria into usable energy.
Why: While still a concept, Limbo is evidence that waste can be found at the forefront of innovation, from start-ups to established global brands.
What: By 2017, British Airways plans to have waste-fueled transatlantic flights.
Why: The London Green Sky project (as it’s called), will use municipal waste from around London to make jet fuel, significantly reducing the carbon emissions associated with flying. It’s a two-for-one environmental boon.