Only 1% of Singapore's tiny land area is allocated for agricultural activities and we have to import most of our food from overseas sources. Yet, we ended up generating 791,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016. That's irrational.
Closer to campus, right here in NTU, a study done by Ecocampus in 2016 has revealed that food waste is a significant contributor of waste in NTU. What could be done to encourage food waste reduction?
In this day and age of technology, we all can find an application for almost everything we can imagine in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. However, non-profit organisations and environmental groups have been slow to catch on and make use of such new platforms. Some of the most commonly cited reasons include the lack of technical expertise to develop them and the high cost of hiring developers. How can we tap on the connectivity that mobile devices provide, or make use of data to help us reduce food waste?
What it does
FoodForGood (FFG) allows the automatic update of purchase information by individual customers onto their smartphones whenever they purchase non-perishable foodstuffs from physical supermarkets and/or online stores such as RedMart.
The purchase information would include the brands, types, quantity purchased as well as the expiry dates extracted from the supply chain data available from the vendors. The users would be identified by their phone numbers as well as home postal codes.
FFG would then keep track of the expiry dates of unconsumed canned foods and alert users when any of the items are expiring soon, typically the alerts will come in start one month before the stipulated date. Whenever any of the canned items are consumed, users are encouraged to remove them from the inventory database.
For any canned items that users expect that they are unable to consume by the expiry dates, they can then donate those items by pressing the Contribute button and the item/s will then be added to a organisational database. These users would be known as _ donor users _
The organisational database of FFG would be used by social beneficiaries to view the available canned items for donation and they would be able to then indicate the items that they wish to collect from the donors, possible selecting them via postal codes for ease of collection.
After the beneficiaries have selected their collection items, FFG would then notify the donor users of which beneficiary would visit them to collect the donated items. The information would also include the point-of-contact information, collection date and time.
This would fully encapsulate the idea of doing 'charity @ your convenience', where food is less likely to get wasted and is passed on to those in need.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
The general coding process was a steep learning curve (**as steep as Mount Everest*) for the entire team, we are basically greenhorns. Nonetheless, the end product fits our overall concept as well as essential functionality.
Accomplishments that we proud of
What we learned
We learned quickly the necessary stages of development required in general for applications development, as well as a different programming language that we are not exposed to within our current curriculum.
What's next for Food For Good
FFG would move on to collaborate with supermarkets and online stores such as RedMart to tie into their supply chain information as well as to encourage shoppers to adopt the app as a convenient way to track their stores at home. In future, with the collaboration with businesses, FFG would also incorporate perishables such as vegetables, dairy and meat in to the system. With respect to the inclusion of perishables, the best before dates would be at the recommendations by each business, providing recommended storage conditions to the customers as well.
For the beneficiaries aspects, FFG would bring about a more robust logistics management system, potentially working with TA-Q-BIN or Ninja Van to enable a more efficient way of collecting donated items from the consumers.