Too Good To Go: Social Innovation for Food Waste in Denmark
Introduction: Too Good To Go is a Danish startup that takes an innovative solution to the problem of food waste in the F&B industry. The company’s app connects consumers with restaurants, cafes, and other food retailers that have surplus food at the end of the day, allowing them to purchase it at a discounted price. This case study aims to examine the social innovation of Too Good To Go and investigate how the organization’s dedication to sustainability has propelled its achievements.
In 2015, Too Good To Go was established with the objective of mitigating food waste and advancing sustainable agriculture in the food and beverage sector. The application developed by the company has rapidly garnered widespread recognition throughout Europe and has subsequently extended its reach to other continents. The application is currently operational in more than 15 countries and has successfully prevented over 100 million meals from being wasted.
Context and issue:
Food waste is a major problem that Too Good To Go attempts to solve with their social innovation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an estimated one-third of the global food production is lost or wasted annually, amounting to a value of approximately $1 trillion. The aforementioned has noteworthy implications on society, economy, and the environment.
From an economic perspective, food waste represents a significant loss of resources. The model employed by Too Good To Go facilitates waste reduction and cost-cutting for businesses by generating revenue from food that would have otherwise been discarded. In addition, this generates new revenue channels for the company, as they take a commission on each sale made through their platform.
In terms of social impact, food waste contributes to hunger and food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme, approximately 690 million individuals experience hunger, and mitigating this problem could be achieved by minimizing food waste. The approach adopted by Too Good To Go, which entails collaborating with food establishments to sell surplus food at discounted prices, serves as a practical solution to tackle the problem of food affordability. This initiative enables individuals who may not have the financial capacity to purchase meals at regular prices to access affordable food options.
Finally, food waste has significant environmental impacts. The squandering of food signifies a loss of the resources invested in its production and transportation, such as water, land, and energy. Furthermore, the process of breaking down food waste results in the emission of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to the situation of global warming. Through the reduction of food waste, Too Good To Go is contributing to the conservation of resources and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Types of social entrepreneurs:
In the context of social entrepreneurship, the company’s founders can be categorized as “transformative social entrepreneurs.”
Transformative social entrepreneurs are individuals who create significant social impact by introducing new and innovative solutions to existing social problems. Too Good To Go’s founders have achieved this by developing a platform that connects food businesses with surplus food to consumers who want to purchase it at discounted prices. This has helped reduce food waste and promote sustainable consumption practices. According to the company’s website, as of September 2021, Too Good To Go has saved over 108 million meals worldwide from going to waste.
In addition, Too Good To Go’s founders can also be classified as “hybrid social entrepreneurs.” Hybrid social entrepreneurs are individuals who create solutions that combine social impact with financial sustainability. Too Good To Go’s business model generates revenue through commissions on each transaction, allowing the company to sustain its operations while fulfilling its social mission.
Finally, the founders of Too Good To Go can also be seen as “disruptive social entrepreneurs.” Disruptive social entrepreneurs challenge the status quo and introduce new solutions that change the system. Too Good To Go’s innovative platform has disrupted the traditional restaurant industry model and has introduced a new way of thinking about food waste and sustainable consumption.
Too Good To Go’s founders can be classified as transformative, hybrid, and disruptive social entrepreneurs.
- Models for creating social impact:
A principle of social innovation that Too Good To Go uses is the use of technology to facilitate solutions. Too Good To Go uses a mobile app to connect consumers with surplus food from restaurants and other food businesses. The app enables easy transactions and reduces food waste while promoting sustainable consumption.
Collaborative consumption model: Too Good To Go’s platform facilitates collaborative consumption, allowing food businesses to sell surplus food to consumers at a discounted price. This model not only helps reduce food waste but also provides affordable meals to consumers who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
Awareness and behavior change model: Too Good To Go’s platform also helps raise awareness about food waste and encourages behavior change towards sustainable consumption practices. The platform provides information about the environmental impact of food waste, educating consumers on the importance of reducing food waste.
Circular economy model: Too Good To Go’s social innovation also contributes to the development of a circular economy by preventing food waste from ending up in landfills. Instead, the surplus food is redirected to consumers, creating value from waste and reducing the environmental impact of food waste.
Partnerships model: Too Good To Go collaborates with a range of stakeholders, including food businesses, NGOs, and government agencies, to create a more sustainable food system. This partnership model helps create a broader social impact by bringing together different stakeholders and leveraging their resources and expertise to achieve common goals.
Creating social impact requires a multifaceted approach that combines different models for achieving social and environmental goals. By adopting a collaborative consumption model, raising awareness and changing behavior, contributing to the circular economy, and developing partnerships, Too Good To Go has successfully created a social innovation that addresses the pressing issue of food waste in the restaurant industry.
- General Impacts of Too Good To Go’s Social Innovation:
- Reduction of food waste: Too Good To Go has helped save over 108 million meals from being wasted since its launch in 2016.
- User engagement: Too Good To Go has over 40 million registered users worldwide and has facilitated over 400,000 partnerships with businesses to date (Source: Too Good To Go website).
- Recognition and awards: Too Good To Go has received several awards for its social innovation, including the United Nations Climate Action Award in 2019 and the Circulars Award in 2021 (Source: Too Good To Go website).
- Triple bottom line:
Below are some examples of how Too Good To Go’s social innovation aligns with the principles of the triple bottom line:
- Economic impact: Too Good To Go’s social innovation creates economic value for food businesses by providing an additional revenue stream from the sale of surplus food. The platform also helps businesses reduce their disposal costs and increase their operational efficiency by reducing food waste.
- According to a report published by the company, Too Good To Go has helped businesses save money by reducing their food waste. In the UK alone, Too Good To Go has helped businesses save over £14 million in food waste costs.
- Generate new revenue streams for businesses: Through the sale of surplus food, businesses can earn additional revenue that would have otherwise been lost due to food waste. In fact, Too Good To Go reports that businesses on their platform have earned over £29 million in additional revenue.
- Create new jobs in the food industry: By reducing food waste and increasing revenue for businesses, there is a need for additional staff to handle the surplus food and accommodate the increased demand. Too Good To Go reports that their platform has helped create over 3,300 jobs in the UK alone.
- Social impact: Too Good To Go’s platform helps reduce food waste and tackle food poverty by enabling food businesses to sell surplus food to consumers at a discounted price. This not only provides affordable meals to consumers but also helps businesses avoid financial losses from wasted food.
- Reducing food waste: Too Good To Go has helped to save over 102 million meals from being wasted as of August 2021, which equates to over 255,000 tons of CO2 emissions avoided.
- Promoting sustainable consumption practices: Too Good To Go’s users have collectively saved over 2.7 million trees, 8.3 million cubic meters of water, and 14,000 tons of waste as of August 2021 by using the app to purchase surplus food.
- Supporting local businesses: Too Good To Go has partnered with over 50,000 businesses worldwide as of August 2021, helping them to reduce food waste and increase revenue by selling surplus food. In addition, the app’s “Discover” feature helps users discover and support local businesses in their communities.
- Environmental impact: Too Good To Go’s platform contributes to reducing the environmental impact of food waste by redirecting surplus food from landfills to consumers. By preventing food waste, the company helps conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste. Too Good To Go estimates that the meals saved through its platform have prevented over 274,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking 117,000 cars off the road for a year.
Therefore, the business’s social innovation demonstrates that it is possible to create a sustainable business model that generates social, environmental, and economic value. The company’s commitment to the triple bottom line not only helps address pressing social and environmental issues but also creates new business opportunities and drives innovation in the food industry.
- Challenges and opportunities in social innovation:
The social innovation presented by Too Good To Go is confronted with both challenges and opportunities within the context of social innovation.
The adoption of sustainable practices by consumers and enterprises presents one of the biggest obstacles. It is often difficult to convince consumers to buy food items that are close to their expiration date, even if the food is still edible. Additionally, convincing businesses to reduce waste by donating or selling surplus food requires a shift in their mindset and operations.
Another challenge is to expand the reach of the platform to more regions and countries. The success of the Too Good To Go model depends on its ability to attract a critical mass of users and partners. To achieve this, the company needs to navigate complex regulations, cultural differences, and logistical challenges.
Notwithstanding the obstacles, Too Good To Go possesses multiple opportunities to expand its influence.
The platform can leverage technology to create a seamless and efficient user experience, connect with partners more effectively, and track and measure its impact.
Additionally, there is a growing demand for sustainable and socially responsible practices among consumers, businesses, and policymakers. Too Good To Go can capitalize on this trend by positioning itself as a leader in the fight against food waste.
The social innovation implemented by Too Good To Go exemplifies the potential for generating social impact through the utilization of technology and the establishment of partnerships with stakeholders throughout the value chain. As the organization undergoes expansion and transformation, it will navigate challenges and seize opportunities to achieve its vision of a global community free from food wastage.
- Collaboration and partnership building for social innovation:
Collaboration and partnerships are also critical to social innovation, and Too Good To Go has successfully built relationships with food businesses and other stakeholders to create a network of sustainable food providers. The company has also partnered with NGOs and government organizations to promote sustainable consumption and reduce food waste.
One of the primary collaborations of Too Good To Go is with food businesses, such as restaurants and supermarkets, to offer their unsold food to customers at a discounted price. According to their website, over 80,000 food businesses have joined the platform, saving over 90 million meals from being wasted. This partnership provides a new revenue stream for businesses while also reducing food waste. By collaborating with more businesses, Too Good To Go can reach more customers and reduce more food waste.
The company also partners with non-profit organizations, such as The Real Junk Food Project and Feedback Global, to support the fight against food waste. These partnerships help Too Good To Go in creating awareness and promoting the social and environmental impact of reducing food waste.
Moreover, Too Good To Go collaborates with policymakers and governmental organizations to influence food waste reduction policies. This collaboration can provide a more significant impact and support for social innovation initiatives. For example, in 2019, Too Good To Go launched a petition calling on the European Union to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. This petition received more than 330,000 signatures, indicating strong support for the cause. Another example worth mentioning is in Denmark, the company collaborated with the Ministry of Environment and Food to develop guidelines for reducing food waste in the food industry.
- Personal and professional development for social innovation:
Too Good To Go’s success as a social innovation is not only attributed to its business model, but also the personal and professional development of its team members. The company’s leadership team emphasizes the importance of creating a positive work environment, promoting personal growth, and providing opportunities for skill-building and knowledge-sharing.
As a socially conscious organization, Too Good To Go recognizes the value of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation. The company actively works to create an inclusive workplace culture that values diverse perspectives and experiences, and encourages employees to contribute their unique skills and backgrounds to the team. For instance, they have published their diversity and inclusion policy on their website, which outlines their efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive workplace. They also have a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion team that focuses on promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.
Moreover, they have set up various employee resource groups (ERGs) such as the Women’s Network, the LGBTQ+ Network, and the Mental Health & Wellbeing Network to support and empower employees from different backgrounds.
Too Good To Go invests in the professional development of its employees by providing training, mentorship, and growth opportunities. The company has a strong commitment to promoting from within, and encourages employees to take on new challenges and roles to further their careers.
Through its focus on personal and professional development, Too Good To Go not only empowers its team members to contribute to the company’s success, but also to the broader mission of reducing food waste and promoting sustainability. The company’s leadership recognizes that social innovation is a collective effort that requires collaboration, empathy, and ongoing learning and development.
In conclusion, the social innovation of Too Good To Go is an excellent case study of how social entrepreneurs can create sustainable solutions to social and environmental issues. The company’s focus on social impact, use of technology, partnerships, and continuous learning exemplify the principles of social innovation covered in the SBC 101.EN course.