Pedaling against food waste

Each year in France, 10 million metric tons of food — worth 16 billion euros — are thrown away without being eaten. This food waste also produces 15.55 million metric tons of CO2. This is equivalent to 3% of France’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and five times higher than emissions from domestic flights… At the same time, 4 million people rely on food aid. A paradox that has led Veolia and the food banks in Northeastern France to develop an original idea: the bike blender.
Published in the dossier of April 2018

4 million people rely on food aid

Food banks Emerging in the eighties, the first food support network in France was inspired by the American food bank model.

  • The 79 food banks and 23 branches across France actively combat food waste and come to the aid of over two million people.
  • 1 in 2 food aid beneficiaries received food collected by food banks, i.e. the equivalent of 210 million meals.
  • In Europe, food banks have developed in 22 countries.

Based on an idea by Geneviève Pupil, Director of Meurthe-et-Moselle’s Food Bank, the bike blender appeared in Nancy in 2016. Made from materials salvaged from waste drop-off centers, it works in the same way as the smartphone charging stations found especially in railway stations, offering users the opportunity to recharge their cell phone as they pedal. In the case of the bike blender, simply pedaling activates a blender and mixes its contents… Slightly overripe fruit and vegetables are thus transformed into delicious juices, soups and smoothies.

The bike blender has proved to be a fun and attractive way to raise awareness about food wastage and the best practices to avoid it. It shows that you can make good and tasty use of food that would otherwise end up in the trash. Its kilometer reader tells users the distance that they have covered and the number of foodstuffs reused… before they enjoy the fruit of their labor! This approach is winning over the younger generation.

“They are very much involved in sustainability and combating food waste. They now come of their own accord to ask us a host of questions. In return, it’s easier to tell them about our program,” states Geneviève Pupil.

Success is on the cards. Rolled out in the Meurtheet- Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Moselle areas, bike blenders are continuing their tour of France… and joining Veolia in the regions. For, given the large amount of edible food waste thrown out, the Group is very much engaged in awarenessraising actions — soup workshops, food donation assistance, etc. — among its staff members and citizens throughout France.