America wastes a lot of food. Between 30 and 40 percent of the entire U.S. food supply ($165 billion worth) ends up in a landfill each year. The USDA's Food Waste Challenge initiative was implemented in June 2013 to cut down on our leftovers; more than a year later, the numbers haven’t dropped significantly. But now there is an app for that—and a new initiative from Massachusetts.
PareUp is an app that aims to stop food waste by connecting users with restaurants and grocers that have excess product, which users can purchase before it is thrown out. "We want to change the cultural conversation around what it means to consume food and the life cycle of food," co-founder Margaret Tung told NPR. "Because we’re throwing out a lot more than needs to be."
PareUp allows businesses to advertise their surplus fare with discounted prices and time of sale; food that can't be donated due to regulations or unmet weight requirements ideally will still be consumed. You'll be able to snag a half-price loaf of artisanal bread, a pound of grass-fed fatback bacon, or a poached pear salad from your favorite cafe with a tap of your touchscreen. The free app's online marketplace is launching in New York City in August, and the app will be available on the iTunes App Store in September. The developers hope to expand to other cities soon.
PareUp has turned up just in time. The state of Massachusetts' commercial food waste disposal ban takes effect October 1. The ban requires any establishment that disposes of a ton or more of organic material per week to repurpose or donate usable food. Unusable excess will be coverted to clean energy or sent to animal-feed operations.
"[Food is] a material that we've historically wasted," David Cash, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, told NPR. "And now we're putting in place the rules and regulations that should allow this resource to be utilized in lots of different kinds of ways."