An innovative business model with leftovers

An innovative business model with leftovers

Creating value from something that is considered as waste.

What I want to tell you is how it is possible to create value from something that’s considered as waste, something nobody sells but you after reading this article.

We are confronted to a few problems in this new geological age Anthropocene, but one that most particularly found my attention is food waste. It becomes unbearable to maintain massive mono-agriculture on the same level of production as we know it. We are confronted to famines worldwide while still 1/3 of the food produced on our tired, eroded land is wasted. Food is wasted on the field, during transportation, after selection, during the distribution, in the supermarket, in hospitality services and finally also in our fridges.

Though, in other industries leftovers are turned it into hefty profits. Oil, for example, is originally drilled for fuel. The by-product, petroleum, is refined and processed into plastics, rubber, toothpaste, cosmetics, detergents, insecticide, and so on.

The same goes for more innovative businesses like AirBnb, they help lots of people sell their leftovers: make money from the leftover space in your house.

I know the comparison is a bit general, but my point is that no other industry would allow such a waste of resources. Then why do we accept food waste?

About two year ago I thought that by caring about sustainability I was doing enough, but I was wrong. When I actually looked at how I was living, I realized that I wasn’t at all aligned with the things I cared about. So, I made a decision: no more plastic. A few months later I met Joris Depouillon, who by coincidence took his decision: no more food waste. When plastic is wasted for 18%, food is wasted 21%. I became conscious we could do more together.

Selling food surplus can have a big impact!

Generating ‘WOW moments’ will make you stand out

‘WOW moments’ are the positive feelings people get from your product when they see it, smell it, eat it. It’s not so easy to create those feelings with food waste and sometimes it might take some time before your idea gets accepted.

That is why I think an easier way to produce those ‘WOW feelings’ is by figuring out how to help someone sell their leftovers. When someone realizes you can help him to sell his leftovers, he will be struck with an ‘OMG, that’s amazing’ feeling towards you.

Re-Fruit, for example, is a Belgian cool start-up who recovers crazy, curved, ugly and forgotten vegetables at the farm and sells them at a lower price directly to consumers. They help the farmer to sell his leftovers and at the same time provide cheaper prices for the consumers who don’t care about ugly vegetables. Re-Fruit saves annually 13 tons of fruit and vegetables. In Belgium alone, the total weight of food lost each year is estimated at 3.6 million tonnes.

An other way to create ‘WOW moments’, is when you provide a totally disruptive way to deal with food waste. Some wasted resources, like banana and orange peels for example, can be processed into innovative materials and new objects. People are always surprised when I show them a self-made piece of leather of orange peels. It triggers their creativity and that is what we are looking for at Magma Nova.

Become a pioneer with leftovers

Quite a few initiatives on food waste already exist, about 20 in Belgium and 200 in Europe. From the total amount of wasted food, only 1% is rescued by those entrepreneurs. Much has still to be done! So, if you’re looking to develop a business around food waste, then I’d advise you to talk with Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network. They have the talent to help trigger off start-up initiatives. They also provide the most reliable judgements and coaching, since FSE Network has gained large experience in that domain by organizing Food Waste Challenges. The best is when fellow creators and peers evaluate one another’s idea.

You will run a company with one business goal: go out of business

You want your company to run out of business because you’ll have reached your goal: no food surplus is available any more. You’ve helped creating a society that doesn’t want waste food. A post-waste society!

If the food industry was held responsible for the waste they’re creating, then they wouldn’t use such unsustainable strategies. It doesn’t make sense in any way to make waste. It’s our mission, as designers and entrepreneurs, to get the notion of “waste” out of this world by closing the circle.

Have a nice day!
Elise