Reduce Food Waste at Restaurants with Zero Percent

April 25, 2012

4:00 pm

Urbana, IL’s Zero Percent is tackling a problem that’s already been accepted as the norm: food waste.

“As standard business practice, U.S. restaurants waste over $10 billion a year —Literally. When faced with the chore of trying to find use of excess fresh-food inventory, the easiest thing for a restaurant manager to do is just throw it away,” explains founder Rajesh Karmani, who delayed his PhD to start the company.

Their solution is a marketplace where restaurants can hand out excess food through discounts or donations and find volunteers to drop off the food at food banks.

But Zero Percent is still a hard sell: not only do restauranteurs expect to waste food, but they’re busy and not always tech savvy.

Still, the startup has managed to collect donations of over 1,000 pounds of food during its 8 month beta. It’s a start toward Karmani’s goal to create a movement:

“The Zero Percent Mission is to help all businesses in the United States achieve zero food waste. We started this service intending to do nothing less than initiating a cultural movement. We welcome collaborators and even competitors who will advance this mission and look forward to living in a world more conscious of food waste.”

The service is currently available in Champaign, and Zero Percent was showcased at our Tech Cocktail Champaign mixer last night.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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