Orbit is a start-up incubator that connects farmers, entrepreneurs and investors to help create new businesses which use food waste as new materials for a sustainable future.
Ruotong Guan
Constance Chung
Rosa Blaus
Powering the food waste revolution
It all starts with the planet. We collaborated with Planethon whose mission is to generate a planet positive future. We chose the topic of food waste because it has a huge impact on our planet. 1/3 of food is lost or wasted globally. And despite this, there are still people going hungry. According to the food waste hierarchy - ideally, food should not be wasted, it should be used for human consumption. We see the opportunities of using food waste as eco-friendly materials to make useful products for consumers and we are eager to help to establish green businesses for a sustainable future.
Interested in talking to the designers of this project?
Set up quick conversation
Redirect food waste into human consumption
At the moment, one-third of the world’s food is wasted or lost annually, and fruit and veg are the biggest offenders. We focused our research on the upstream part of the food production chain - the closer you get to the raw materials, the larger the impact you can have. A lot of food has been wasted due to overproduction and strict grading systems before they go to market, which has been used as animal feed or put in the landfill, which in turn contributes about 15 per cent of all greenhouse gases. Redistribution of food waste for human consumption is the best option, but how could we do so?

Create new markets by using food waste

We started to look at how to repurpose food waste as an alternative solution for current products, and who can provide the food waste raw material. Fortunately, there are more and more pioneering designers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers have developed a variety of alternative materials made from food waste. Beyond the creation of new products, waste valorisation has the potential to provide additional benefits to business and society including reduced environmental impacts; reduced waste disposal costs; and reduced dependence on non-renewable raw materials.

A data driven approach to the problem

After our interviews and workshop with entrepreneurs, food producers, supermarket, and people from the incubator, we found that we should: 1. Focus on entrepreneurs and start-ups rather than big institutions because they are more agile and transparent. 2. Encourage long-term partnerships between food system stakeholders because the food waste problem is too large and complex for any social entrepreneurs to tackle alone. 3. Investors should be included in our system because they are crucial for building a new business. Then we arrived at our idea which is a food waste database that can leverage the most promising research, technologies and drive innovation to deliver new business value.
How does it work?
Orbit helps entrepreneurs to identify new opportunities, investors to make data-based investments which align with their values, and food waste producers to make profits from their waste. There are three key features: 1. Pooling data: Orbit uses machine-learning algorithms to identify and pool data from food waste producers, technology and the market and generate a database related to food waste. 2. Identify opportunities and co-creation: Orbit categorises them into different categories, called "Big opportunities". Orbit then publishes these "Big opportunities" for entrepreneurs to apply for, and they can then create a network of stakeholders and build partnerships. 3. Information-based Investment: Orbit provides investment suggestions which come from our database. After that, investors can meet with the right entrepreneurs and other stakeholders to foster partnerships.
From linear to circular - Let's meet in the future
Although we started from working with small entrepreneurs and startups, our vision, through accelerating new partnerships between different stakeholders in the food waste area, stimulates ideas that encourage existing businesses to transform from linear systems to circular models, ultimately creating a sustainable and resilient future. By building a platform that connects various entrepreneurs and investors, our service facilitates more voices from the planet and grass-roots level to be heard by policymakers, and values raised from niche innovation to be recognised by the wider public. Most importantly, more businesses and existing infrastructure will be part of the solution and large value chains will finally start taking a ‘systems approach’ to tackle difficult problems like food waste.
special thanks
Qian Sun - Royal College of Art Carina Johed - Planethon, Elin Green​ - Piñatex, Fredrik Wikholm - Planethon, Gustav Borgefalk - Royal College of Art, Jordan Lazell - Coventry University, Liz Goodwin - Wrap, Mark Little - Tesco
Interested in talking to the designers of this project?
Set up quick conversation
No items found.