How Atlanta’s Ponce City Market Plans to Reduce Food Waste to Zero
Food waste has come into the spotlight in recent years, as the magnitude of the problem weighs heavily in the sustainability debate. At global conferences like René Redzepi’s MAD Symposium and the Seeds and Chips Global Food Innovation Summit (which Obama attended last year), chefs and techies are troubleshooting the problem that costs America $165 million dollars a year. Thus, the rise of delivery services like Imperfect Produce, which capitalizes on the 15% of imperfectly shaped produce that has to be thrown out of any given crop, co-founder Ben Simon estimates.
Regardless of the success of preemptive solutions, the fact remains that, at least right now, restaurants are still swimming in surplus. So what do we do with it? Well, that's where Goodr comes in. The food delivery app platform works with businesses to pick up surplus food from restaurants and grocery stores and deliver it to non-profits, tracking tax deductions for the donors along the way: A whopping $300,000 to date, per the company’s website. With restaurants like Red Lobster and Chipotle reportedly contributing, the Atlanta-based app seems to fill the niche of a standardized middle man that has been lacking.
Since the advent of Goodr, Atlanta corporate juggernaut Turner Broadcasting Systems has signed on board, and so has the historic Ponce City Market food hall, starting April 1. It hopes, eventually, to make it to a 0% waste goal, per a press release this week. Given Crowe’s vision and execution, it seems that's not far off.
Goodr was founded by social entrepreneur Jasmine Crowe after she started an event in 2013 called Sunday Soul. In it, members of Atlanta’s homeless community could dine in a restaurant-like setting, complete with tablecloths, nice cutlery, and flowers. “I wanted to give them a restaurant experience to restore dignity,” Crowe says. At Sunday Soul, she was doing all the cooking herself—and realized it would be a lot easier and more scalable if restaurants could donate.
As for other new food waste solutions, there are also biotech tools like Demetra, designed to extend the shelf life of produce so less goes bad; on the restaurant side, tech solution Winnow utilizes scales beneath trash cans to compute total proportion of food waste into a linked app. The company estimates this product can cut restaurant costs 25k to 50k a year.