Reducing Food Waste with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, May 03, 2012 @ 10:43 AM

Save FoodYou could feed a small country with the food you threw away! How many of you heard that growing up from your parents? Well, maybe they were onto something.

The cost of food these days makes it much more difficult for many to buy lunch at work when they have cold cuts, lettuce and tomatoes at home that will go bad if not used to make a sandwich. When going out to eat, we can justify the large portions by knowing we can take a doggie bag home, but half the time it gets forgotten in the restaurant or brought home and tossed in the trash after a few days.

South Korea may have found the next best thing; deterring people from wasting food. An RFID-based system charges people for the food they throw away.

As reported by, SK Telecom has developed bins that will weigh food that is thrown out. Using RFID, the bins will calculate a disposal fee based on the exact weight, which will then be debited from the person’s public transportation card or billed to a credit card.

It works in much the same way an RFID-enabled check out at a grocery store might work.  The person taps the bin where there is a reader waiting to read an RFID-enabled card. The lid opens, and the person can throw out their unwanted leftovers. The bin then weighs the food waste and informs the person of the subsequent fee.

According to a city government official, they expect their approach (which includes a home kitchen system) to help reduce 670 tons of food waste per day, cut the total amount of refuse by 20 percent by 2014, contributing to savings of 19.5 billion won (over $17M USD) per year.

Good idea, don't you think? Anything to help reduce waste of any kind is A OK in our book. I’d like to enforce a similar practice in my house. I wouldn’t necessarily charge my children, but having them think twice about over-serving themselves and throwing away food is a good thing.

Once the mindset is established, we might start to incorporate this thinking into our decision-making process. At a restaurant, we may decide that while it might be nice to order an appetizer, entre and dessert, while sampling the bread, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to eat it all. We may make better decisions with waste reduction in mind, and skip the appetizer in favor of the bread.

This is a great example of RFID helping to Reduce. We’ve also seen how RFID can help Reuse. We’ll take it upon ourselves to find a successful use for RFID in Recycling and report back.

Tags: RFID, Food & Beverage, Waste Management

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