You can tell how affluent a society is by what it throws away. And that’s never more true than with food. A new app gives food its value back.

Whether it’s barely-touched bags of salad disintegrating in the bottom of your fridge or the monkfish you never got round to eating, in the Western world, we’re champions at overestimating how much we actually need.

And restaurants are as guilty of that as the rest of us.

If you have ever worked in catering, you’ll know that throwing away edible food is a fact of life. It may be down to changes of menu or local laws, but a lot of grub ends its days prematurely at the bottom of a bin.

That’s where Too Good To Go comes in.

Simply put, this new app puts restaurants in touch with customers who are happy to buy perfectly good food that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of service. Founded by a group of friends in Denmark in 2015, it now operates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Norway, the US and the UK.

all you can eat buffet with Too Good to Go
What’s on offer? Restaurants often have a lot of edible food left.

Save a dish – save money

Too Good To Go is easy to use: you create an account, receive a mobile receipt and then head to the restaurant to pick it up. And with a maximum price of around €4.20/£3.80, it’s ideal for those who don’t mind eating late or can’t afford regular restaurant prices (so students then).

“We’re trying to highlight the scale of food waste and place the value back onto food as something that should be eaten, not thrown away,” says Too Good To Go co-founder Chris Wilson. “To do this, we’ve partnered with restaurants, cafés and bakeries to make their surplus food – the perfectly good stuff that would otherwise be thrown away – available for collection via our Too Good To Go mobile app at their end of service for a reduced price.”

sushi box and logo of the Too Good to Go app
Too Good To Go: a cheap alternative to the pizza service.

However, there could be one stumbling block: some restaurants, like UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger, already give unused food to homeless charities. And while Too Good To Go sounds like a neat idea, couldn’t it lead to less being donated?

Chris Wilson doesn’t think so: “No, in fact we work with many places who already work with charities,” he says. “We’re simply offering an alternative – a safety net for the time when a charity might not be able to collect a restaurant’s surplus food, or when they’ve oversupplied so much that a charity struggles to take it all.”

Ultimately, and almost perversely, even as Too Good To Go expands, its goal is to put itself out of business.

“Food waste is a global epidemic,” says Wilson. “If we can help raise awareness of that then we’ve achieved something. Our ultimate goal is to turn Too Good To Go into a waste management platform that allows restaurants to control their supply better, eliminating any possibility of food waste at source and eventually making Too Good To Go redundant.”

Now that’s an ethical business plan.

Learn more about Too Good To Go on their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Regions: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Norway, United States, United Kingdom
Price: free
System: iOS 7.0 or higher, Android 4.0.3 or higher
Size: iOS 53.2 MB, Android 29 MB