Tech startups tackling food waste in Bangkok


Thai food is certainly irresistible, but food waste is a serious problem in Bangkok, and so a young generation of entrepreneurs has launched several startups to tackle the issue, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

“We know that the burden of an unsustainable world will fall on our shoulders,” said Alex Rendell, an actor of Thai and British descent who is the UNEP Goodwill Ambassador for Thailand. “Some of us take action through our voices, helping to raise awareness. Others are combining their interest in innovation and technology with the drive for a healthier world.”

Food waste is a major problem that contributes to climate change and a polluted environment, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In Bangkok, uneaten food makes up 46 percent of the nearly 10,000 tons of solid waste the city collects every day. Much of it ends up in landfills, although some is diverted to waste-to-energy power plants.

However, young entrepreneurs have been trying to solve this problem, and have created several startups to help reduce food waste. UNEP highlighted some of them on its website:

These programs include a foundation that collect surplus food across the city and donate to low-income communities; a technology to help extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables while maintaining its nutritional quality; an app that lets restaurants track kitchen waste to improve how they manage better not to waste; a business model that promotes urban farming and turns food waste into compost used for growing fruits and vegetables on office-building rooftops; and a farm that uses worms and insects to help compost food (vermiculture) and turn food waste in to useful bio-fermented water for households.

Most of these startups are still operating in niche markets. More efforts are needed to raise consumer awareness and engage with stakeholders to drive demand for green tech solutions.

UNEP initiated a project named “Build Back Better” to help cities tackle challenges and Bangkok is one of the five cities to join and piloted an integrated approach to use green and digital technologies to reduce food waste at the consumer level.

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