Food-share apps seek to help environment

A Karma app user collects his food, ordered through the food-sharing app, from a Coco Di Mama outlet. (AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2020

Food-share apps seek to help environment

  • Campaigners say food loss and waste create 8% of all emissions

LONDON: Jack Convery pops into a London branch of Italian eatery Coco di Mama to grab a cut-price lunch ordered on his smartphone’s food-sharing app Karma.

The 27-year-old Amazon employee — with an eye for a bargain and for helping the environment — uses a mobile phone app that sells surplus food from hundreds of UK restaurants at discounted prices.

“Anything I can do to help the environment and look after the budget as well is beneficial, so yeah, it’s a win-win,” Convery said after collecting his bag from the counter near Old Street Tube station.

“It ends up working out much cheaper than to go to (British supermarket) Tesco and buy a meal for one,” he added, noting that he can usually get his daily dinner for about £3.50 ($4.54) via the app.

Decomposing food waste is a key source of greenhouse gases — and a staggering one third of all food is thrown away, according to industry estimates.

Amid growing public outcry over the climate emergency, consumers are switching on to the environmental danger of carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Britain’s cafes and restaurants are also embracing apps that generate some revenue from rescued food that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

However some restaurants happily give unsold food to homeless charities on a daily basis.

Swedish start-up Karma was founded in Stockholm in 2016 and its app now helps to serve 1.0 million users in Britain, France and Sweden. In the UK alone, it offers 2,000 outlets.

Rival app Too Good To Go also offers cut-price meals with a similar approach. Britain-based Olio enables its 1.7 million customers worldwide to give their own unused food items free to other users, via collection from their homes.

“When we give to charity partners, that’s great. But with Karma we get some money recovered; (it) doesn’t cover costs but it helps,” said Sara McCraight, head of branding at Coco di Mama.

Joao Campari, food expert at environmental campaigners WWF International, argued that apps are an “important” way to cut waste.

“With food loss and waste creating at least 8 percent of all emissions, it’s vital that as many people as possible reduce their personal food waste,” said Campari.

“To do this, we need tools that are easy to use and also help raise awareness of the scale of the problem. Most people have a mobile device so apps are an obvious and important way of educating and enabling action.”

Wastage occurs throughout the food supply chain: on farms, during transport, in retail stores such as supermarkets.

“In truth, the best way to cut emissions from food loss and waste is to prevent food being lost on the farm and in the supply chain before it reaches end-consumers,” added Campari.

Yet in developed nations, most food waste occurs in restaurants and private homes — at a time when an estimated 820 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, according to the World Health Organization.

“We throw away one third of food we produce each year,” said Tessa Clarke, co-founder of Olio.

“Roughly 10 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste alone, which I like to point out to people is four to five times greater than the carbon emissions that come from the global aviation industry.”

But Professor Martin Caraher at City University London’s Center for Food Policy pointed out: “These are good for raising awareness but they’re not in themselves solutions, because there’s still food surplus or food waste being produced.”

UAE dives into Lake Manzala project

Updated 21 September 2020

UAE dives into Lake Manzala project

  • Egyptian campaign aims to return the lake to its previous state and revive local fishing industry

CAIRO: The UAE National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) has announced that it won the rights to the expansion project of Lake Manzala in Egypt, valued at 600 million UAE dirhams ($163 million).

The company’s announcement of the new project came following a disclosure published on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange website. It ensures compliance with the principle of disclosure and transparency in force in the UAE.

Lake Manzala is one of Egypt’s largest natural lakes. It is known for its potential fishing opportunities, as it has the basis for high fish stocks due to natural nutrients and a moderate climate throughout the year. It produces about half of the natural fish production in lakes.

The lake has witnessed neglect in recent years, losing much of its importance and wealth. In May 2017 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched a national project to develop Egyptian lakes, with a key focus on Lake Manzala.

NMDC said in a statement that winning the project came through its partnership with the Egyptian-Emirati Challenge Company. It said that it will take about two years to implement the project.

NMDC is one of the leading companies in the field of dredging, land reclamation and civil and marine construction in the Middle East. The Lake Manzala development project aims to improve the quality of water to restore free fishing and return the lake to its previous state, which will boost the local market and export output.

President El-Sisi said that Lake Manzala will contribute to enhancing Egypt’s fishing industry, and export operations will be activated after its full development. He directed the border governorates, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and the Armed Forces, to remove all encroachments and criminal outposts on the lake.

Several days ago, Dakahlia governorate completed a difficult operation to remove encroachments on the lake. A large campaign that used Armed Forces Engineering Authority equipment removed 301 houses in the Abdo El-Salhy area in El-Matareya city, known as the “fishermen’s land,” which was built on areas that were filled in from the lake. The operation occurred after local fishermen were persuaded to obtain compensation for vacating their houses.

Magdy Zaher, executive director of Manzala Lake, said that the engineering authority used 320 excavators and 20 imported suction dredgers to work in the lake.

The authority dredged the upper islands isolated from the water with the help of an Emirati bulldozing company to increase the efficiency and purification of Lake Manzala.

Zaher said the lake project will require several steps.

The most important is the removal of encroachments on the water surface and doubling its area to 250,000 feddans, he said. Dredging and deepening the lake, opening the gates and extending the radial channels to allow Mediterranean waters to enter the lake will follow, he added.

A safety belt will come in the form of a road 80 km long and 30 meters wide, which will surround the lake and prevent future encroachments. It will also divert the course of the Bahr El-Baqar water treatment plant, which pours 12 million cubic meters of sanitary, industrial and agricultural drainage into the lake, Zaher said.