We live in a mobile-obsessed world; the average Briton checks their smartphone every 12 minutes, meaning people now spend the equivalent of one day each week browsing and swiping. This digital culture is transforming every sector, leading to some exciting new developments in the waste management space.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the latest innovations that are helping households to reduce their waste and improve the way that rubbish is handled – including Whitespace’s own brand-new resident engagement app.
Forget checking the date on the label – we could soon be swiping to see if our food is still in-date, if science has anything to do with it.
Bioengineers at Imperial College London are working on printable sensors that can be added to food packaging to detect gases such as ammonia and trimethylamine, which indicate that meat and fish products have gone off.
If their research proves successful, in the future consumers will be able to scan food packaging with their smartphones to see if products are still suitable to eat – rather than relying on traditional sell-by dates, which often err on the side of caution.
Imperial College hopes that this development will help to reduce the 1.3 billion tonnes of safe to eat food that is thrown away globally each year. This will also positively impact Local Authorities, by reducing the volume of food waste that is both recycled and discarded in black bag collections.
Waste not, want not
Efforts to cut down on food waste are not limited to individual households, either. There are several mobile apps on the market that try to address the problem of commercial surplus being thrown away at the end of the day or beyond its shelf life.
For example, YourLocal is a marketplace application that connects consumers with retailers in their neighbourhood that are selling surplus stock at a discounted rate, to stop it ending up in landfill. The scheme is currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York in the US, with YourLocal’s founders planning to roll it out in other cities.
Another anti-waste innovation is Too Good To Go, a smartphone app for restaurants and cafés to offer customers mystery bags containing a meal or snack that would otherwise need to be thrown out at the end of the day. Consumers can rescue produce that was otherwise destined for the waste bin, enjoying restaurant-quality food at a significantly reduced price.
Creating community champions
Emerging technologies are also enabling Local Authorities to engage communities and help them to manage municipal waste more effectively.
We recently launched the Whitespace Resident Mobile App, for example, which gives waste management teams the chance to communicate important updates with local households. Residents can check which waste collection services are offered in their area, and report any issues such as fly tipping, graffiti and missed bin collections – so councils can identify which parts of their region require additional attention.
Our mobile app also encourages people to become ‘Community Champions’, working alongside Local Authorities to improve the way waste problems are reported on and managed, in order to create a nice place to live.
Discover more about the Whitespace Resident Mobile App.