Innovation That Matters

The Nudge system alerts users to which groceries are nearing their expiration, so they can be prioritised | Photo source Nudge / Kickstarter

Electronic tags nudge people to avoid food waste

Food & Drink

A system of food tags helps users keep track of which foods in their refrigerator need to be eaten first

Spotted: No matter how much we try to avoid it, we have all had the experience of finding food at the back of the fridge that spoiled before we could eat it. In fact, it is estimated that, each year, households waste around 6.6 million tonnes of food in the UK alone. That equates to £10.2 billion (€12.3 billion). Now, startup Tugiba has proposed a solution with connected devices that remind users when the food in their fridge is about to go out of date.

Tugiba’s Nudge Tag system has two parts – a cloud-connected ‘Puck’, and electronic ‘Tags’that are connected to the Puck. The Puck is hung on the front of the refrigerator door, while the Tags are clipped to individual foods or packets. When the user places a food item in the fridge, they twist a dial on the Puck to indicate how many days are left before the food item expires. They then press a Bluetooth pairing button on a Tag, and hold that Tag near the Puck. The devices connect and the Tag uploads the expiration data.

After this, whenever the fridge door is opened, the Puck wirelessly triggers all of the active Tags inside to light up in one of three colours – green for food that has a lot of time left before expiration, yellow for food that should be used soon, and red for expired foods. Users are instantly alerted to what needs to be eaten first.

In addition to the Tags and Puck, the system comes with an app that tracks the Tags, offers alerts when high value items are about to go off, estimates the savings made by eating yellow tagged food in time, and highlights a curated selection of food charities that can be donated to. The company explains the thinking behind the Nudge system as a way to break the cycle of wastage. “No one intends to waste. Wastage is often just a result of our busy lives and the intention to not waste doesn’t turn into Action. We then have no choice but to throw away the food. Often the younger ones in the family pick up these bad habits from the parents and the cycle continues.”

At Springwise, we are seeing a growing number of ideas for reducing food waste. These include the climatarian movement, and practical innovations such as systems for turning leftovers into cooking gas and packaging made from waste potato peels.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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