AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than one million pounds of food is tossed into the trash in Austin every day, according to a 2018 City of Austin report.
But a new app that launched in the city on Wednesday is trying to change that – by connecting locals with fresh leftover food that would otherwise be thrown away.
Through Too Good To Go, people can buy a surprise bag of food from participating businesses at a third of its usual cost.
The food waste app already has 60 local restaurants, bakeries and cafes signed up – with many offering cheap food, usually between $4 and $6, on its first day in Austin.
“We throw away one third of the food we produce on the planet, which is crazy to think about,” said Lucie Basch, co-founder of Too Good To Go. “The great opportunity in there is that we can all be part of the solution.”
Food waste is a global problem, making up 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and the larger issue of waste has been identified as an area for improvement in Austin.
The city is on the path to becoming zero waste. In 2011, Austin City Council committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills by 90% by 2040.
“It’s really about building that global movement for fighting food waste that now every person living in Austin can be part of,” Basch added.
La Condesa, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin, is one of the 60 businesses signed up at the start of launch day.
General manager Jennifer Le said it was a “no brainer” to join Too Good To Go since the restaurant already focuses on sustainability by using compostable takeout products and meat from Texas farms.
Le added that La Condesa hosts events where they serve a buffet in the middle of the week, and plan to pack the leftover food into the surprise boxes for Friday lunchtime – making extra money and helping the environment instead of simply tossing the food away.
“What we do is box up the food and allow guests throughout all of Austin to purchase it at a discounted rate, and they can enjoy a little piece of La Condesa,” she said. “To see that Austin is bringing it here, it’s amazing.”
The app was launched in Europe before making its way to the U.S. Austin is the tenth American city where Too Good To Go is available.
It also aims to help address food insecurity in the local area through its partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank.
How it works
Users can log into the app and see which businesses are offering surprise boxes at the discounted rate.
For businesses, it’s a case of splitting the leftover food into the surprise bags and listing them on the app.
They choose both the contents of the box – the app shows the box’s value – and the pick-up time.
“We link stores that might have leftovers at the end of the day to consumers who can pay a small price on the app and come to pick up all that great food that could have been thrown away 10 minutes later,” Basch said.