A Burning Call To Action

On the 23rd September the United Nations hosted its 2019 Climate Action Summit in New York. In the face of a worsening climate crisis, the overarching theme of the summit was obviously a call to ACTION over lip service! As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asserted to world leaders,

“…the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech but concrete action.”

For many companies around the world, the financial bottom line is still the most important metric of success for those in charge. However, for French company Love Your Waste, its positive impact on society is of equal importance to its financial success. Love Your Waste is addressing the global fight against food wastage. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the total carbon footprint of global food wastage is a major contributor to global warming.

Love Your Waste works with schools, hospitals, restaurants and food delivery services to minimise food waste by collecting waste and sending it to be transformed into renewable energy. In addition to this, they focus on teaching these organisations how to cut down on the waste they produce and reduce their environmental impact. Despite the efforts of socially innovative companies like Love Your Waste, hundreds of millions of tonnes of food is wasted each year, with one third of all food going to waste globally (according to the UN’s FAO).

Australia is one of the biggest wasters of food globally, with over 5 million tonnes of food wasted annually, while over 4 million people had unreliable access to food last year. Australian entrepreneur Jane Kou founded the social impact startup Bring Me Home to combat food waste. Bring Me Home partners with food vendors to allow them to sell leftover food for a discounted price. Buyers search and pay for their food on the app, allowing them to track their savings and their waste reduction contributions.

Yume, founded by fellow Australian entrepreneur Katy Barfield, is another socially innovative company aimed at combating food waste. Yume allows commercial food manufacturers to sell unwanted food in bulk to those who can use it, preventing large quantities from being sent to landfill.

Social impact ventures such as Bring Me Home, Yume, and Love Your Waste play an important role towards combating food waste in Australia. They demonstrate how startup ventures can be developed to meet the needs of society. We believe it is time for more Australian companies to follow suit. By implementing innovative solutions focused on addressing the biggest problems affecting our society and environment, companies can place equal importance on people and planet, as they do with their financial bottom line.

But founders of early stage ventures are not the only ones who can and should drive innovation towards addressing urgent societal and environmental needs. Social innovation works towards the creation of new products and services that address systemic societal and environmental issues such as food waste, inequality, and global warming. It is possible to build innovation capability within large organisations and drive it towards societal good, and we continue to make it a strong part of our mission to do just that. For us, it’s crucial! Business as usual will no longer cut it. As young climate activist Greta Thunberg said in her impassioned speech at the Climate Summit,

“How dare you come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight!”

By Joel Flude & Rosary Coloma

[image credit: Photo by Bob Blob on Unsplash]

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