#79 Algorithm to Reduce Food Waste
Food waste in Baltimore is unfortunate given the number of food deserts and hungry people in Baltimore, and incinerating wasted food contributes to air pollution (see https://www.nrdc.org/stories/baltimore-poised-put-major-dent-its-food-waste-stream).
Jun 27, 2022
Aug 16, 2019
Why it matters
Food waste in Baltimore has far reaching environmental and economic impacts. Restaurant workers were caught dumping food waste into the Jones Falls watershed in 2018 (https://www.baltimoresun.com/features/baltimore-insider/bs-fe-la-cuchara-tomatoes-jones-falls-20180904-story.html), the Wheelabrator incinerator in Westport is the top air polluter in Baltimore due in large part to food waste, it's costing the city as much as $10 million a year to burn food waste, and the rate of food insecurity in Baltimore is 23% (twice the 12% national average) (https://www.nrdc.org/stories/baltimore-poised-put-major-dent-its-food-waste-stream). The overall environmental health of the city is therefore greatly impacted by how the Government, businesses, and citizens handle and distribute food.
What does "good" look like?
Good looks like a reduction in the amount of wasted food and food incineration, an increase in the delivery of food into food deserts, and a sustainable food waste disposal stream (e.g., a city-wide composting program) that can be maintained at a low cost with high public buy in.
How could technology solve this?
Software can be developed to track food waste in the city and use machine learning and algorithms to encourage people to purchase or consume food before it's wasted. Such apps exist and could be further developed to help Baltimore and deliver more fresh food into food deserts (see https://foodtank.com/news/2017/08/food-waste-technologies/ and https://www.forbes.com/sites/yiannismouratidis/2018/11/27/we-can-save-crops-before-turning-out-into-a-nice-lunch-for-microbes-and-insects/#416b73af7322). https://futurism.com/algorithm-software-food-waste https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/4-technologies-food-waste-in-supply-chain/532155/