Surplus is a logistics service and application that enables food manufacturers and retailers the opportunity to donate any surplus, ‘fit for purpose’ food to their partnering charities. In doing so, more food will be redistributed to vulnerable people living in food poverty instead of being disposed in landfills.
Safe to consume surplus food can be uploaded onto this application, and made visible to charities in need, as a donation. The charities will be able to know exactly how much food is available and accept any donations that would apply to them.
With the major stakeholders involved on the same platform, a unified approach is adopted to tackle similar goals, a transparency of information is created and the process is made more efficient in order to maximise the amount of food that is redirected away from landfill to those that need it most.
Feed the world. Save the world.
Core 77 Design Awards, 2016, runner up in the service design category.
How does it work?
All users can connect and ‘Partner’ with their partnered charities online. Making it easier to see their current status and to communicate efficiently.
Any food manufacturers or retailers that have surplus, fit for purpose, food can donate it. Choose a food category and enter the total weight available, a brief description and confirm whether you have the ability to delivery this donation or not. Set the expiry date to which this food must be accepted by and also share the donation on social media to access a wider audience.
This is essentially a live feed. The user can visualise on a map where all food donations are available. Tap on the icon and see how much food is available, the description, how far away it is and whether it is available for delivery. This gives charities the ability to plan collection routes ahead of time.
Every contribution a user makes to tackle food waste and help relieve food poverty is recorded and plotted onto graphs so the user can visualise their efforts over time. The option to share these figures online to create awareness is also available.
The benefits of Surplus are obvious. The money currently being invested into the collection and disposal of surplus food can be redirected into the redistribution of it. Therefore, with more of this food being consumed rather than disposed, the resources and money that went into the process are not going in vain. The after effects of the rotting foods in landfills are then being prevented. While all of this is being done, the people living in food poverty will be benefiting from this surplus food. While Surplus can be a solution to preventing surplus food going to landfill, it is not a solution to ending food poverty. Surplus will, however, be a valuable contributor to helping these families and individuals take the first step out of food poverty. By alleviating the strain of buying all of their food, those affected can begin to better manage and invest their money in other areas of life, enabling them to thrive rather than struggle to survive.
Implementation & Scalability
Any recognised food manufacturer, food retailer and charity tackling food poverty can sign up. They can all easily communicate and ‘Partner’ with each other online to increase efficiency. The food is categorised in the same way as food bank ‘shopping lists’ are, so all users will understand it and be able to visualise what donations are made and available. When a donation is accepted Surplus calculates the distance and how long it would take to collect it, making it possible to think ahead and plan collection routes, which is critical when using a large number of volunteers.
Surplus was designed using elements from previous mental models to ensure it would be easy to understand and a feasible proposal. A lot of Surplus’ design utilises ideas from social media platforms and certain stock control and retail systems that are used today. Also, because the food is donated and no money is transferred for the goods, many complicated steps usually associated with the exchange of food is excluded making this far easier to create.
With the amount of resources and money that are being used throughout the food lifecycle just for it to end up disposed in a landfill make the initial costs of creating and implementing Surplus viable. Food manufacturers will see their food being consumed and they will see reduced costs for the disposal of surplus food. Charities will also have the opportunity to accept more food and have the chance to visualise it all beforehand to ensure a quick turnaround and, in turn, help more people in need.
The possibility to increase the scale of Surplus to become a global approach is high and a global approach is needed to tackle food waste and food poverty. Surplus could eventually be used by all businesses within the food industry, through to catering and restaurants. The more businesses and charities that sign up to Surplus will only increase the amount of partnerships created and therefore increase the chances of surplus food being redistributed to those in need and not put into landfills. Surplus will create a unified community of businesses and charities working together to tackle food waste and food poverty.
Fareshare NI deliver roughly 800kg of food a week to, on average, 10 charities. They help 70 charities and distribute up to 160 tonnes of food a year, which is roughly 500,000 meals. They are currently at capacity and can only store up to 20 pallets of fresh food at any one time. There is a ‘bottleneck’ in the process at this stage. Fareshare estimates that they only handle 2% of all surplus food within the food industry.
Rotary Foyle Foodbank
In the first 6 weeks alone, Foyle Foodbank helped provide three day emergency food parcels for more than 300 local people living in crisis and the demand for this food continues to exceed estimations. Certain founders within the charity had to provide a lot of the funding and sometimes buy food to maintain the rapid growth.
Measures are currently in place to prevent food waste, such as reducing the price of the food nearing their use-by date, but food waste is encountered daily within SPAR retail. Even though deliveries of food are regular, meaning orders can be smaller and more accurate, fluctuating demand and buying based on previous sales figures is never 100% accurate. Shop owners would rather overbuy to maintain the aesthetic appeal of full shelves.
Have a look at my research report from a more in-depth look at my process.