In 2016, three entrepreneurs from Copenhagen, Leeds and Paris co-founded “Too Good To Go” (http://toogoodtogo.org) a social impact company intended to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 Sustainable. Consumption and Production, also supporting 13 Climate Action.
Globally 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year, and food waste is responsible for between 8 and 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the US some 40 per cent of food is wasted each year, while in Europe it is some 33 per cent. Initially launched in Copenhagen in 2016, the concept spread quickly to France, Norway and the UK. They focused their attention on the European market, expanding into Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. On September 29th 2020 they entered the American Market, operating first in New York and subsequently in Boston.
The concept is simple – they produced an app which allows the general public to identify participating businesses (food retailers, restaurants, hotels) and the food they are disposing of. The business makes up what is known as “Magic Bags” and although the customer has no idea what he/she is purchasing exactly, an order can be placed and paid for on the app, the price reduction typically around 70 per cent. In addition to the saving, there is also the element of surprise for the consumer. At the same time, the business can recover at least some of its costs and, often, gain credibility and new customers in the market place by being seen to be involved in helping to reduce food waste.
Since its inception, the venture has proved to be extremely popular. More than 50,000 outlets are participating in supplying some 29.9 million users in 14 European countries, and they estimate that approximately 56 million meals or 130 million kg of CO2 have been saved. While the vision of the company is a planet with no food waste, its “mission is to inspire and empower everyone to take action against food waste”. To do this, they have recognized the inter-connectivity of the system and created what they call four pillars – businesses (the producers), households (the consumers), public affairs (the legislators) and educational institutions (the educators). The company recognizes that much food waste results from ignorance and therefore has a strong educational programme in schools and universities as well as informally through its own website, where it offers facts and figures about food waste and advice on how to reduce it in the home. It also recognizes that to reduce food waste will require both policies and legislation and is working with Governments and public agencies to help bring about the changes necessary.
The company generates its revenue by taking a percentage of the income from the meals sold on the app and between 2018 and 2019 it saw its revenue increase by 200 per cent. In August 2016, the Danish founder of fitness tracker Endomondo, Mette Lykke, joined the company as Chief Executive Officer, having sold Endomondo in 2015 to Under Armour for $85 million. Since then, the company has expanded rapidly and currently employs 450 people. With a 4.4/5 Glassdoor rating, it would appear that most employees enjoy working for the company and it receives such endorsements as: “A great company with amazing people” “Great public values, good pay a fun atmosphere”, “Great Team, lots of opportunities for growth and advancement” etc. Not only does the management care for its employees but it gives them space to express their ideas and to grow with the business. At the same time, it recognizes the contribution of those working in the food to go sector and in August 2020 commissioned a survey of 255 UK employees. According to this, some 90% of those employed in the sector were found to be impacted negatively by the amount their business wastes on food each day, and more than half (55%) reported that they had received no sustainability awareness or employee training sessions on how to reduce food wastage. Commenting on the findings co-founder Jamie Crummier, said: “The negative impact this is having on employee wellbeing is a cause for concern”.
Even so, “Too Good To Go”, a registered B-Corp, demonstrates the contribution that a harmonious approach to entrepreneurship can make to the sustainability challenge. By helping reduce food wastage in this way entrepreneurship does not just create wealth and generate employment opportunities, but it helps preserve the environment, assists those on low incomes secure quality food and creates a better informed, more responsible and more environmentally concerned society.
© Professor David A. Kirby and Harmonious-Entrepreneurship.org (2020). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Professor David A. Kirby and Harmonious-Entrepreneurship.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.