A new app is urging consumers to stem the rising tide of dumped food in Ireland - estimated at over 19,000 tonnes a week.
Food sharing app OLIO connects neighbours to give away unwanted food and other items that may otherwise end up in landfill.
New research reveals that sending 1kg of food to a landfill produces the same carbon emissions as doing this with 25,000 500ml plastic bottles.
Even before its rollout in Ireland this week, word of mouth has meant OLIO already has over 36,000 sign-ups, with users giving away 10,500 food portions.
People can give away food and other unwanted household items by uploading a photo and description on the app, plus details about where and when to collect it.
Others can then request these by searching or browsing through the listings, where they will see what’s available nearby.
So far, Dublin is the most active county, followed by Cork, Kildare, Galway and Wicklow.
“We’re focused on building our user base here in Ireland because we feel it provides the perfect environment for OLIO to thrive,” said OLIO co-founder and CEO, Tessa Clarke.
She was inspired to build the app in the UK five years ago after struggling to find anyone to take the unwanted food from her fridge when she was moving house.
“People in Ireland have an innate sense of community and food is valued. They also like to give and care about each other and the planet.
“By enabling people to easily share more and waste less, we aim to help transform our throw-away society into a giveaway society.”
One Irish OLIO user, Dubliner Lindsay Ray, 38, has so far given away 121 items and collected 69, saving the equivalent of 56 meals and 18,000 litres of water.
“There are already close to 2,500 people living within a 5km radius of me in Rialto on the app, so there’s an active group of people sharing and giving away,” she said.
“I use OLIO when doing a clear-out or if I come across something I no longer need. I’ve given away tea, coffee, tins of soup, lentils and pasta. Last week my partner discovered a spare tin opener, which we were able to give to another OLIO user.
“Apart from the decluttering benefits, it feels really great to be able to give to others, while reducing waste. People in my area are into recycling and waste reduction in a big way, so items are usually requested within an hour or two.”
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows an estimated one million tonnes of food are wasted in Ireland each year, costing approximately €700 per household annually and equivalent to 3.6million tonnes of carbon dioxide collectively.
OLIO’s own research uncovered that a third of people feel “physical pain” when they throw away good food.
OLIO’s rollout here comes off the back of a €36 million funding round announced in September that will enable it to accelerate its international expansion plans.
In five years, OLIO has acquired over 5 million community members worldwide. Over 34 million portions of food have been shared, with the pandemic increasing the number of listings coming onto the app by five-fold.
The app can be downloaded from Google Play and Apple app stores. The desktop version is also accessible via olioex.com