Smarter Food Labels to Reduce Waste

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Sustainability Problem:

Food waste is a global economic and environmental problem and in the U.S. alone accounts for $29 BN annually. While many people are food insecure, food that is perfectly fine for consumption gets thrown out because of confusion surrounding expiration dates, sell by dates and best buy dates. Many of these date labels are inconsistent and do not actually indicate the food’s safety but rather is the manufacturer’s estimate of the product’s freshness or best taste.

Technology:

Bump Mark is a different type of food label – it’s patent pending technology is bio-reactive so that the label degrades at the same rate of the food, turning the gelatin layer into liquid which creates bumps on the packaging that the consumer can feel to assess if the food is bad or not. If it is smooth, the product is fine to eat, if there are bumps- time to discard.

The composition of the label is illustrated below:

designbysol_bumpmark-layers

Bump Mark was created by designer Solveiga Pakštaitė who developed it while studying at London’s Brunel University. Currently Bump Mark is used for various meats and Pakstaite is exploring other plant-based options that could be used for different types of foods. With a “living”, reactive label consumers could better understand if their food was still fit for consumption without relying on expiry dates.

Stakeholders:

  • Food processors/manufacturers
  • Food retailers
  • Consumers of food 
  • Investors
  • Scientists

Implementation:

Pakstaite’s firm Design by Sol firm is currently looking for partners so that the labels can be fully developed and launched. Possible hurdles to launch could be regulatory requirements, as in the U.S. for example, the FDA would have oversight. There could also be push back from the food industry, who may see a reduction in sales if consumers are wasting less but also consuming else as a result.

Sources:

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/waste_not/hannah_furlong/forget_saving_date_these_smarter_labels_will_save_food

http://www.designbysol.co.uk/bumpmark/patent

 

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