#021 Data driven kitchens have insight in food waste

One third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste. Food waste is a huge problem for every commercial kitchen – the hospitality industry needs to change the way of operating to become more sustainable.

Orbisk developed the world’s first automated food waste monitor. The company provides the solution to one of the world’s biggest problems: the annual waste of 1.3 billion tons of food. 

Orbisk uses smart technology as an intelligent solution. This has a positive effect on the environment but also a financial saving for the hospitality industry. Let’s take a closer look at why chefs should consider using an Orbisk system in their commercial kitchens. 

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Over 10.000 kilos food waste each year in a single restaurant

According to circular chef Bryce Steba there are many challenges for chefs in commercial kitchens to becoming more circular:

  • Tons of food is wasted due to legislation and regulations
  • Shelf life of food is often very narrow due to these laws
  • Much food for supermarkets and restaurants is thrown away for looking ‘imperfect’ before it can even be sold
  • Many kitchens order far too much food and have no real way to optimise stock
  • Lack of of knowledge about food preservation options such as fermentation
  • Plastic product packaging which is not recycled properly 

There is waste at every stage of the food chain: from growing the crops, the transportation of produce to the sale of food. In hospitality, food is often wasted where teams are not purchasing the right stock or because chefs are not able to cook efficiently. Many big and busy restaurants operate with a large carbon footprint.

Food waste and climate change 

How is this related?

  • Constant consumer demand for exotic products, all year around requires huge amounts of CO2 emissions due to greenhouses and the fact that food often travels many kilometers before it ends up on your plate.
  • Production of meat requires a lot of energy.
  • Preparing food requires much labour and energy. In commercial kitchens ovens and air conditioning are usually in operation all day long.

“We should have respect for the effort and love that is put into growing, producing and preparing our food.  And of course, the financial consequences of wasting perfectly edible ingredients!”

Coming up in this Circular Story

  • How much energy we waste without knowing it

  • What is in the Paris Agreement

  • How they work together with Burger King

  • How you run a business and be purpose driven without losing profit out of sight

Orbisk brings the first automated food waste monitor

Orbisk is a Dutch company who have developed the world’s first automated food waste monitor. Using their technology, restaurants can improve on sustainability by reducing food waste, based on data. Chefs can install the system to be more resourceful in their approach to designing a menu and therefore reduce food waste from their kitchens. 

Orbisk discovered that for every kilo of food wasted, it was originally purchased at an average price of €5. In a small restaurant that can mean around € 200 worth of food end up in the bin everyday. Orbisk wants to change that system so the value of usable food is not lost.

Olaf: “It breaks my heart to see how much food is thrown out on a daily basis. It is not only unsustainable it is also a complete waste of energy and money!”

The team at Orbisk has created this simple solution with advanced technology. The image recognition software makes it possible to automatically identify food and give the chef a deeper understanding of the waste stream. Their solution enables a chef to optimise stock, change buying procedures or adjust the menu to reduce food waste.

The problem: lack of insight

For the chefs and hospitality managers running large kitchens, Orbisk solves the problem of excessive food waste and lack of insight into food that is going to waste. They close the loop in kitchens by providing teams with knowledge about their own process. Therefore, the purchasing and restocking process can be adjusted, resulting in smarter use of food and much less waste.

Orbisk provides a tool to help them evaluate their process, while they have the knowledge on how to change the way they buy, design a menu and prepare and present food to guests. 

The solution: data driven efficiency

The food waste monitor, powered by AI image recognition technology, registers and weighs food waste automatically. The product is the size of a scale, and fits any restaurant kitchen while being easy to use by everyone in the team.  

With a clear and detailed report of the collected data, together with the Orbisk community, the company enables restaurants to change processes and reduce waste significantly. This solution can offer waste reduction levels of up to 70%. 

A drive for a data driven kitchen

“I remember being on holiday a few years ago and seeing a breakfast buffet table, full of bread, salads and cheese. However, the restaurant itself was completely empty and the staff was cleaning out the buffet. The realisation that all that food would be thrown out was horrifying. At that point I realised I wanted to change this. 

As a data consultant I know how to optimise business processes. I found a way to bring these worlds together and create a data driven solution for our food waste problem.”

Olaf van der Veen, now CEO of Orbisk. First educated as a chemistry scientist,  who later trained as a business manager Olaf was initially employed to connect tech and business in data related fields.

“I Felt like there was more to life than what I was performing in my last occupation, so I agreed with myself to quit regardless of circumstance if nothing changed within three months. That attitude gave me the drive to explore my capabilities and wishes, leading to my desire to work in sustainability. All it took is some sitting down and writing down dreams and ideas to come to the idea that turned into our company of today.” 

“With the right insight it is easy to adjust purchase or use the product in another dish. Putting it back on the table, selling it at chefs and owners by a great margin.”

According to Olaf, what is his definition of the ‘circular economy’? 

“Circular economy is knowledge of what a process looks like so that you can close a loop. The end of the process should be the beginning of another with as little loss of resources as possible.“

For Orbisk their gap in becoming fully circular lies in the hardware they use. It is not yet 100% circular as the hardware is made from new materials and they are only able to reuse or recycle some parts. Mostly the electronics are very hard to make circular with heavy dependency on China, and Olaf dreams of optimising that one day.

Circular Quote
of the day:

“One third of the food produced we don’t even taste, and is wasted”

Olaf van der Veen
Founder Orbisk

As a Leader, would you consider purpose or profit to be the main driver for your company?

“Looking at the way we’ve built up the team around us, I would say purpose. Looking at our business I would say it’s both though: we have built this company and the team for purpose, but we believe the only way to become impactful at scale is to run a commercially strong, profitable business, adding economic value for our customers, that is able to grow, more or less continually. Therefore we absolutely pursue the profit part as well, both for ourselves and our customers.”

We ask Olaf, what changes have you recently made regarding your own personal lifestyle and why? 

“In COVID times I started taking better care of myself: in the last 2 years working 80-100h a week, which took a toll on my physical and mental state. I was working on adrenaline that took me a long way, but only when we were forced to halt for a little bit I noticed how I had exhausted myself. Today I take better care of myself mentally by prioritising better and with that creating more time off, and spending more time on my physical wellness which again supports my mental state”

If you could have a gigantic billboard with anything on it what would it say and why?

I have never tried that before, so I definitely think I can do it!

Olaf is inspired by Pipi Longstocking.

Everything is connected

Curious about other stories related to food waste or sustainability in hospitality are:

Circular Chef Bryce Steba (Atelier Thuisbasis) shows how to practically run a high level zero food waste kitchen, serving guests a circular menu while educating them and other chefs in the most pleasurable way. He even found a way to make a banana peel taste like heaven.

Solublue Found an alternative for plastic packaging that extends shelf-life of food, thereby reducing food waste.

ENJAY Recycling energy of the hospitality industry with their innovative heat pump, Enjay is the first company in the world to use the hot exhaust air produced by a kitchen to then minimise operation costs of restaurants. With 15 million restaurants across the world, these and similar solutions have the potential impact of reducing global CO2 emissions by 1%.

Circular stories:

Circular Quote of the Day

Do something that makes your kids proud.

Dr. Sebastian Porkert, Founder ECOFARIO

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