Zero Percent, a Food Rescue App


  • Sustainability Problem
    • Up to a third of harvested food is wasted.  This inefficiency causes higher water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than would otherwise be necessary to feed the population.
    • In industrialized countries up to 40% of food waste happens at the consumer site when people and restaurants discard unused items from their kitchens.
    • At the same time, 1.2B people globally do not have enough food to eat.
  • Technology/Solution
    • Zero Percent is an app that allows commercial restaurants to donate their food to charities like soup kitchens and food banks.
    • Donor lists the food items available and non profits can select the products that are right for them (for example, bulk nonperishable items could be more appropriate for a food bank) and schedule a pickup
    • The restaurants are charged a fee for participating and presumably less food waste reduces the overall waste disposal costs for the restaurant.
  • Stakeholders
    • Restaurants
    • Nonprofits that serve food to low income populations
    • Non profits already in the food rescue business (ex: City Harvest)
  • Implementation Steps
    • Market to businesses with clear business case for waste cost savings
    • Partner with existing food rescue organizations
    • Invest in drafting and complying with local food safety guidelines to protect brand.
    • Aggressive targeted community outreach to build strong networks of donors and recipients in select communities.

Going back to your roots with Electricity-free Groundfridge

  1. Technology (

The Groundfridge created by Floris Schoonderbeek (the founder of Weltevree) is an innovative take on a traditional root cellar. The technology uses the insulating effect of soil and the cooling effect of groundwater. The temperature in the fridge remains stable year-round between 10 and 12° C (50 to 54° F). This is the ideal temperature for storing fruits, vegetables, wine and cheese. The unit has a storage capacity of 3,000 litres, which can hold the contents of 20 (European) refrigerators, that store 500 kg of food. This is equivalent to the harvest of a 250 m2 vegetable garden, which is enough to prepare 350 meals to feed a family of 5.


  1. Sustainability Problem

With excess consumption and waste plaguing the food industry, this technology is part of a concept meant to encourage the modern homeowner to grow and store their own produce for a modern self-sufficient existence. It meets the requirements of people with their own vegetable garden, who choose to live in a modern and self-sustaining way.

Furthermore, the unit is electricity-free – another element of the Groundfridge which helps consumers reduce their impact on the environment. On average, 20 A grade EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) Refrigerators combined, use 6,620 kWh annually. The Groundfridge performs the same feat completely without any electricity.

  1. Stakeholders
  • Urban farmers
  • Community garden owners
  • Consumers
  • Restaurant Industry
  1. Implementation Process

This product has a relatively exclusive reach due to its high cost (approximately $10, 000). It is currently being released to early-adopters in Belgium and the Netherlands and plan to go abroad by the end of 2016. I feel that the restaurant industry with larger budgets (especially the farm-to-table concept) may also be a viable avenue for the creators to explore, combining their sustainable approach to food storage with the idea of local sourcing and environmentally-conscious food consumption.

However the cost-savings associated with reduced electricity-use may eventually be able to offset the high upfront cost of the unit. The creators could also look into certain financing options which take into account the payback time.

As far as the technology is concerned, the feasibility of operations should also be explored in other climates. This, as well as high costs are some of the barriers to implementation.



Off Grid World, Electricity-free Groundfridge Lets You Store Produce Without Traditional Refrigeration:

Weltevree, Groundfridge:

Treehugger, Get back to your roots with the Groundfridge prefab root cellar:

Open-source robot to optimize backyard gardening


1. Sustainability Problem

Food and agriculture: There is growing demand in cities for local produce, but small-scale gardening tends to be both labor-intensive and resource inefficient.

2. Technology Article Summary

The FarmBot Genesis Brings Precision Agriculture To Your Own Backyard

by Andrew Hayward
Published 6/27/2016 on modern farmer at

  • A three-person team from California has developed a data-enabled machine to sow and water seeds in small gardens.
  • The FarmBot Genesis is pre-programmed to optimize spacing and watering for thirty three common plant varieties – but the open source coding means that it can be adapted by the user for specific applications.
  • The bot can be controlled from a smartphone or computer, and users can customize plantings using in a simple interface that looks like a computer game.
  • The current system can manage a plot up to 2.9 meters × 1.4 meters, with a maximum plant height of 0.5 meters – but there is potential to develop and customize the technology for a variety of applications.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

This technology is now available for pre-order, and the immediate stakeholders will be:

  • Backyard farmers
  • Urban agriculture organizations and cooperatives

Because the technology is open source and has potential for development, future stakeholders could include:

  • Operators of commercial-scale greenhouse operations
  • Plant researchers working in controlled environments

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • Creators: disseminate the Genesis model
  • Early adopters: identify value-add applications
  • Creators: scale up manufacturing to bring cost below $1000/unit

See also:


Fabric Made of Food


Problem: Milk Waste 

In Germany every year 1.9 million tons of good milk is disposed of . This waste is costing manufacturers, as well as contributing to food waste and landfill overspill.

Technology: “When Technology Meets Fashion” by Charles Morley

In 2011, German micro-biology student, Anke Domaske, discovered t a way to make textiles out of milk, tea and coffee beans. She then launched Qmilk, which produces fabrics made from 100% biodegradable/renewable materials, mainly raw cow milk. In order to do this “you add the protein powder – it looks like flour – to water and you mix it into a dough. Then there’s a nozzle at the end with teeny tiny holes that put out textile fibres instead of noodles”. Qmilk 1 kg of fiber only needs 5 minutes to produce and max. 2 liters of water, this means it can be more cost efficient as well as produce fewer CO2 emissions. finally, it is naturally antibacterial, which means it can be used for those with sensitive skin or textile allergies.


Qmilk tech engineers/designers

Technological partners


Fashion designers

Clothing retailers



In order to implement this technology on a large-scale, a number of investors need to be introduced

Qmilk is a small company, based in Germany. In order to spread the technology, it must be introduced to the US market and other European countries that have a big influence in the fashion industry.

Fashion designers must begin to use the technology to introduce the innovation to the public and encourage its usage down the supply chain i.e. factories and low-end designers/retailers.


When Technology Meets Sustainable Fashion


Solar tents to preserve fish in Malawi

1) Energy

Problem: In Malawi, drying fish is currently achieved by chopping down trees and burning the logs, which simultaneously removes a carbon sink and produces additional carbon emissions. 

2)  The technology: solar tents:

– A new “solar tent” allows fisherman to dry their fish only using only solar energy.

– A polyethylene sheet is hung over a wooden frame shaped so as to maximize the captured solar heat and ensure optimal airflow.

– The tent is more sanitary than the wood-burning open-air drying, which exposes the fish to dust, pests and contaminants. Fishermen thus lose fewer fish to spoilage.

– Farmers get a higher price for cleaner, higher quality dried fish and don’t need to cut down as many trees (just enough for the wooden frame, which can be used for years).

– Sustainability is paired with economic development.

3)   Stakeholders

– Local and international development NGOs

Fish buyers

–  Local councils in fishing communities


4)   The first 3 steps in deploying this technology

  1. Perform research to compare economic and environmental impacts of an average wood-burning fishery compared to a solar tent fishery based on the pilot project.
  2. Identify fishermen using wood-burning strategies and gauge interest in solar tents.
  3. Solicit funding from local and international NGOs to provide credit and/or grants to build tents for interested fishermen.

Creating new products out of food waste


Sustainability Problem: Waste management – 40% of US food supply ends up in the trash.

Technology: Providing data, transparency, and hardware for “upcycling” or reducing food waste. These types of products can include those that link wholesalers with food that may go to waste soon with restaurants at a significant discount OR provide hardware or services to generate fertilizer, animal feed, or human food from food waste. More and more startups are emerging that create new products out of food waste, such as Back to the Roots which sells mushroom kits made from used coffee grounds and Wtrmln Wtr which sells watermelon juice made from melons which were un-sellable in grocery stores.

NY Times Article here

Stakeholders: Consumers, Manufacturers, Grocers, Farmers, Wholesalers, Restaurants

Implementation: (1) Identify points of major food waste (from manufacturers, grocers, consumers, etc. and analyze data to understand and prioritize biggest areas of waste to focus (2) Partner with providers and consumers of identified area of food waste to pilot process and technology for one location (3) Scale with existing partners to additional locations or manufacturing plants

class june 16, 2016 – uni mst2135

Impossible Foods: Plant-based burgers with taste and texture of the real thing

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.52.07 PM

Sustainability Problem:

Animal agriculture contributes to nearly ⅕ of all GHG emissions worldwide and beef production is considered the worst offender when it comes to its environmental impact. A 2014 study found that compared to pork or chicken, beef production requires 28x more land use, 11x more water use and produces 5x more GHG emissions. Cutting back or eliminating beef consumption would have a positive environmental impact. However, many people enjoy the taste of beef and aren’t interested in pursuing a completely meat-free or plant-based lifestyle. The current plant-based meat substitutes in the marketplace, do not replace the void of a “real” burger when it comes to taste and texture.


Impossible Foods aimed to create plant-based meat and dairy products that have the taste and texture of real animal-based products that are healthier for the consumer and are less harmful to the planet using less energy, water and other resources compared to animal products. Over three years of research into what makes the process of cooking and eating meat so unique led to the discovery of the molecule heme which gives meat its distinct taste and smell. This molecule is also found in plants and therefore Impossible Foods set out to develop the right combination of plant-based ingredients on a molecular level to mimic the taste and texture of a real beef burger. Operated as a tech firm and not a typical food company, Impossible Foods is based in Redwood City, CA was founded by Stanford biochemist Pat Brown whose premise is that food production is reliant on technology. Impossible Foods has raised $182 million and received a $300 million buyout offer from Google, which they passed on.

Technology Stakeholders:

  • Chefs, restaurateurs, food retailers
  • Consumers of beef burgers
  • Scientists
  • Engineers
  • Farmers
  • Investors

Technology Implementation:

Impossible Foods plans to officially launch their first product the Impossible Burger in July 2016 in select restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and NYC. They are currently partnering with select chefs to gain awareness and interest in the food space and have held tastings at tech conferences such as Code Conference. Future expansion plans include plant-based dairy products. To better address the sustainability problem of beef consumption, Impossible Foods should scale production to have products in retail markets with a wider U.S. or even worldwide distribution.

Update August 10, 2016: The Impossible Burger is now available in NYC at Momofuku Nishi.

I tried it today and was impressed. As a former burger-lover who went plant-based earlier this year, it did fill a void. It did taste like a beef burger and I would probably try it again.