Scholar Abay Yimere lays out a compelling argument for slashing food waste globally — by upgrading food delivery chains with sun-powered refrigeration units.
Perfectly good food ending up in the trash is not only wasteful in an economic sense, but it is also a massive harm to the environment. As organic matter decomposes, polluting gases (like methane) are produced, warming up our planet.
As much as 1.3 billion tons of food is squandered this way every year. Much of this waste happens after the food has arrived at its final destination (such as a restaurant or your home). But for regions with developing infrastructure, products like fish, meats, dairy items, and fresh produce often go bad long before reaching consumers.
Improving (or in some cases, introducing) a cold chain system could go a long way to helping erase this problem. A cold chain is a series of procedures and technologies that keep any given product at a certain temperature, which, for most things, involves freezers and refrigerated truck trailers.
Expanding a cold chain to areas of the world with conventional refrigeration technologies may not be possible if there is no local power grid to power them. And even if there are, if those grids are powered by dirty energy, harmful gases will still be introduced into the air even if less food is allowed to rot.
Solar-powered refrigerators, on the other hand, could seamlessly expand cold chains to developing or rural areas. Solar power is clean power and can essentially be used anywhere there’s sunlight. That means that these “sun fridges” wouldn’t need a preexisting power grid or infrastructure to operate and can serve even the most remote areas.
Pilot programs have already seen success, allowing farmers to charge higher prices for higher quality (and fresher) produce.
As rising temperatures continue to stress power grids worldwide, a solar solution to food waste is a brilliant idea. In the meantime, if you are interested in reducing your own personal food waste, consider trying the Notion app to effectively plan your grocery shopping.
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.