App to Prevent Food Waste

The human cost of Canada producing $49B in food waste annually is high. The environmental cost is a perfectly edible cherry on top of a delicious piece of pie that is headed straight to the landfill. Getting shelf life food to go to the 1 in 7 Canadians who are food insecure, presents a myriad of logistical problems. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Be One to Give, created an on-demand business-to-business app that provides retailers with the tools to eliminate 100% of surplus shelf-life food from their daily operations. Instead, they deliver it to agencies supporting people who are food insecure.

It’s not as if no one’s hungry we are, of course, experiencing a global climate crisis that only promises to make the situation—and just about every other situation— worse. Yet a 2019 report from Canada’s largest charitable food rescue organization, Second Harvest, indicated that 58% of all the food produced in Canada at all kinds of costs, is wasted each year. 


Close to 80% of that food loss is happening in businesses along the supply chain. There, 3.2M metric tonnes of surplus edible food is produced annually, 96% of which is not being rescued or redistributed. This amount of food waste generates 56M tonnes of methane gas, which is 25x more damaging to the environment than CO2 and 84x more potent in the first 20 years.


With 1 in 7 Canadians being food insecure, the food waste problem might seem easy to solve, but among other things getting short shelf-life food from Point A to Point B (i.e., being someone’s breakfast) is logistically complicated. Fortunately, now, thanks to Be One to Give Inc, (an employment social enterprise that primarily targets women of colour to fill senior roles and BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ youth to manage program operations) there’s an app for that. 


Trays full of repurposed food going to those in need

The B12Give app was developed to provide clients with a reliable and cost-effective tech-based solution to their food waste issue. It’s the first app in Canada to facilitate the business-to-business redistribution of surplus food, creating a circular food economy that can easily be scaled to both national and international markets. 


According to Second Harvest, there are more than 127k+ potential food donors with surplus food across Canada. Putting the B12Give app on the table took a fair bit of prep work. After speaking with more than 150 retailers across the GTA, the B12Give team determined that there was an obvious gap in the market between surplus ‘prepared’ food recovery and food insecurity. It’s a gap that none of the current recovery programs have been able to fill.


Some potential clients had incorporated business-to-consumer discount apps to help deal with their food surplus issue but none of those apps handle the logistical side of eliminating excess food. Understanding that filling the logistical gap and keeping the cost low were the two key factors in food redistribution. The team built a unique delivery service system that allows retailers to eliminate food surplus. This system considerably reduces what it currently costs for organic waste collection. The pilot was tested through text messaging in late 2019, receiving national recognition for successfully redistributing over 10,000 lbs of food. It was determined that a food redistribution app, one designed for businesses along the supply chain, was as intuitive, efficient, and similar to other food delivery apps. The B12Give team set about doing just that.


Partnering with the University of Toronto Software Engineering Program allowed B12Give to build the technology at no cost to the business. Once the foundation of the app had been created, a senior developer was hired to bring their minimum viable product to fruition. It is currently active in the market. B12Give executes multiple 2-hour redistribution cycles that guarantee all food collected is given back to the community partners within 2 hours of receipt. By using this delivery model, they’re able to ensure stakeholders follow provincial food safety requirements while capitalizing on the 96% of surplus food going uncollected along the supply chain. 


Just some of the 21,000 pounds for food that has been repurposed by the B12Give app

Through their current partners, this strong team has redistributed over 21,000 lbs of food to close to 16,000 people, diverting roughly 80,000 lbs of methane gas from the atmosphere. While their technology can capture 100% of surplus food from retailers’ daily operations–– they are the first to admit that it’s never going to entirely solve the issue of food waste. What it does is give its clients a circular solution that will help them surpass their food waste reduction goals. 


Similarly––though redistribution does provide those who are food insecure with greater access to surplus food–B12Give, doesn’t claim to be the solution to food insecurity.

After all, a lack of income or low-income levels is the core reason behind food insecurity. The solution to that can’t simply be downloaded. Deeply modest as they are, Be One to Give is proud to have put a simple solution that supports people with additional food resources at no cost on the table.