Intelligent trash can could help cut down on food waste

More than $160 billion worth of food is wasted in the U.S. every year; not just at home, but in restaurants too. An American businessman has developed an intelligent trash can to help companies around the world cut down on their leftovers.

15,000 hungry customers move through the order line at an IKEA store in north London every week. What they don't eat is thrown away.

Chef Ricardo Roach tossed out about 20 pounds of meatballs every day until technology changed the way he operates.

An artificial intelligence system called Winnow Vision helps chefs manage leftovers.

Chef Roach says, “We just put the waste in the bin, the camera takes the photo.” The computer snaps a photo to identify the food and weighs it to determine how much is being thrown out, putting it in dollar terms. “You get a report the following morning that you can analyze and adjust your business accordingly,’ says Chef Roach.

Winnow Vision calculates food trends, giving Chef Roach an idea of how much needs to be cooked for customers so less is thrown out at the end of the day. The food tracker has cut IKEA’s waste in the U.K. and Ireland by nearly 40%, saving the equivalent of 800,000 meals a year.

IKEA says what's good for the bottom line is also good for the environment.

Lorena Lourido is the Country Food Manager at IKEA U.K. & Ireland. She says, “You are contributing to something bigger, something that will impact the well-being of the planet for the future.”

Nearly a third of all food worldwide ends up in landfills worth roughly a trillion dollars a year. Winnow is trying to take a small bite out of that problem. The tracker is used by several other companies including InterContinental Hotels Group, Costa Cruises and Emaar Hospitality Group.

Marc Zornes is Winnow’s Founder and CEO. He says, “I think we're gonna see a movement to make this problem something of the past over the next 20 years.”

With growing interest across the food industry, Winnow hopes to help more companies save both types of green.

IKEA hopes to eventually start using the food tracking system in the restaurants of its U.S. stores as well.

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