An application designed in Montreal to counter food waste

Backup is an app that connects cafes, restaurants, bakeries and small grocery stores with environmentally conscious consumers. These small and medium-sized retailers (bakeries, certain branches of Second Cup and St-Hubert rotisseries, among many others) offer users, at reduced prices, meals, surplus perishable food, products that are almost expired, even expired (but still edible), or even ugly fruits and vegetables.

It is very simple. You just have to open the application and you see the partner businesses near you. And you just have to select the products that interest you. You pay for your purchase online and pick up your items at the pick-up time indicated by the merchant, explains Johny Saliby. People can also get their hands on loot bags, which are also very popular and, again, sold at a discount.

The president and CEO of the Backup application, Johny Saliby, at the premises of District 3, a Concordia University incubator that helps young people launch their businesses.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Bruno Larose

Johny Saliby was aware from an early age of the importance of not wasting food. At home, my parents have always insisted that we eat everything on our plate. I think it’s because in the Middle East, food is also something very cultural, very unifying.adds the 39-year-old man of Lebanese origin, who was born and raised in the West Island of Montreal.

He points out that throwing these organic materials in the trash has serious consequences: locked in bags with other residues, then sent to landfills, the food releases methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more powerful. than CO2 over a 20-year period. This therefore contributes greatly to global warming.

Fight against food waste is one of the easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gases, to do your partargues Johnny Saliby.

There is not just one solution to the problem of global warming. My application is one of them. »

A quote from Johnny Saliby

After modest beginnings in Montreal, the application is now present in Quebec, Gatineau, Ottawa and Sherbrooke. Toronto and other major Canadian cities will follow. A year after the launch of Safeguard, the number of participating food merchants has increased tenfold to nearly 300. As for the number of users, Johny Saliby estimates it at around 20,000 in Quebec.

Feedback from our customers is very positive. They find it interesting to do something for the planet while savingsays Johny Saliby.

The young entrepreneur thinks big, very big, for his application. sky is the limit, he says. We are targeting all of Canada by 2030 and we are in negotiations with larger partners. In the longer term, the head of Safeguard wants to develop a charitable component that would allow retailers to offer food to people in need in exchange for tax receipts.

A few tips from Johnny Salby to counter food waste

  • Better organize your purchases.
  • Plan your menu to buy only what you need at the grocery store, while planning for leftovers.
  • Compost your uneaten food in the brown bin or using a compost bin.
  • If there is no food waste collection in your municipality, check to see if a nearby market or organization would take your food to be composted. Alternatively, your garden would be a good place to use organic waste compost.

There are other apps that aim to prevent food loss, like Flashfood and FoodHero, tied to big grocery chains like IGA, Metro, and Loblaw. TooGoodToGo is another, similar to Backup, but which is more present in Europe, comments Johny Saliby. The entrepreneur explains that the particularity of Safeguarding is to seek the support of small and medium-sized retailers, such as cafes, restaurants and bakeries.

Louise Hénault-Éthier, associate professor at the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) and director of the Center Eau, Terre, Environnement, sees this Quebec application very favorably. It’s really something useful. We must encourage this kind of structuring and permanent initiative, especially since food waste is an issue of social equity because people in need do not have access to all this food that is still good and which ends up the binshe says.

If food waste were a state, it would rank third in the world for its GHG contribution, behind the United States and China. »

A quote from Louise Henault Ethier

Are the authorities taking this issue seriously enough? It’s coming, she answers. She gives some examples: the City of Montreal, which is deploying its Zero Waste Vision, and France, which has banned supermarkets since 2016 from throwing away their unsold food. But we will have to move on to the next stage, that is to say regulations, eco-fiscal measures such as tax credits for food donations, surcharges or landfill fees, subsidies for companies that make efforts against food wastelists the professor.

In the meantime, she invites consumers to try applications like Backup. Same observation for processors or food stakeholders, to whom she also suggests using any other tool (such as food brokers, food buyers, etc.) that can help them make a transition to circular economy models or reducing their carbon footprint. We need to change our waysinsists Louise Hénault-Éthier.

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