BLOG / Let’s Talk Trash: How Apeel Uses the Waste Hierarchy to Beat Food Waste

Let’s Talk Trash: How Apeel Uses the Waste Hierarchy to Beat Food Waste

At Apeel, a win for us equals zero food waste, but there's a lot of game left to play since globally, fruits and vegetables make up 40% of all the food that goes to waste (Porter et. al. 2016). We’re part of a global effort to eliminate food waste, wherever it arises. While we all know the famous three players in this effort, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,” to become All-Stars in the waste game, we need to up our waste management skills.

With our food-waste fighting, plant-derived solution for extending the shelf life of fresh produce, we’re pros at reducing food waste in the supply chain. But what about our offices? To become food-waste champions, we often reference the Waste Framework Directive developed by the European Union. This Framework provides explanations and principles about waste management, but more importantly, lays out the Waste Hierarchy - in other words, the rules of the game!

The Waste Hierarchy is our playbook for managing waste. This prioritization framework helps us find solutions high on the Waste Hierarchy (see image below) where we can prevent food waste, rather than automatically sending waste to the bottom of the pyramid (i.e., landfill).

Photo via Skip Hire Network

Photo via Skip Hire Network

Need an acronym to remember the Waste Hierarchy? Use APEEL as your “mental hook”:






We use the hierarchy when making game-time decisions. Let’s talk about a few examples:

Prevention: Since Apeel's inception, we have validated our technology by testing on fruits and vegetables. With such a high volume of produce needed for experiments, our staff cannot fully consume all of the produce we use for testing before it perishes. Instead of sending the produce to compost, the company currently partners with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to donate produce to food insecure groups in our local area. As a result, we have donated over 16,000 pounds of produce to the Foodbank since 2018!

Recycling: At our headquarters in Santa Barbara, many of our experiments test produce until it becomes inedible, in order to determine the effect of our technology on extending shelf life. Sometimes these experiments leave us with a lot of food waste that could end up in a landfill. We thought we could do better, so the Team began exploring new ways to valorize our food waste. Serendipitously, the Team was introduced to Guner Tautrim, and his team at Orella Ranch, who utilizes the technique of vermiculture (i.e., composting using worms).

Since July of 2019, we have donated over 11,000 pounds of food waste to Orella Ranch, avoiding 2.8 metric tons of CO2e emissions from landfills. These savings are enough to offset emissions from driving 7,000 miles in a gasoline-powered vehicle! 

These are just a few examples of how the Waste Hierarchy helps us go for gold in reducing food waste globally AND in our backyard. With this as our game plan, we are motivated by the idea that the “cleanest” waste management option is to not create any waste in the first place. That’s why we are working with nature to find a solution to keep produce fresher longer, thereby preventing waste. But, there is no “I in Team” and to win this, we need more players. That’s why we partner with all stakeholders in the food supply chain to beat food waste.

We hope you join us as fellow waste opponents and champion the Waste Hierarchy on your playing field! With your help, we're making a difference. 

If you haven't yet, check out our sustainability webpage to see the sustainable impact Apeel is making on our planet. 

Sustainability Page

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[1] Definitions pulled verbatim from the Waste Framework Directive