The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has unveiled the launch of an innovative Food Rescue Programme to combat food waste.
As it seeks to half all food waste by 2030, the MOCCAE has teamed up with tech company Cisco to develop the initiative.
A preliminary test of the solution was conducted during the opening months of Expo 2020 Dubai – the international year-long cultural exhibition which takes place every five years.
The trial used technology from Replate, a Cisco grantee which has worked around the world with the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Walmart and WeWork, to automate the “food rescue process”.
Food waste costs the UAE $3.5 billion (around £27 billion) annually, and the country ranks among the top nations for per capita waste in the world, according to Replate.
Around 38% of food is wasted in the UAE, and this goes up to 60% during Ramadan. This is compared to roughly 30% of food being wasted worldwide.
Replate’s AI-enabled tech supports a kind of monitoring system – at Expo 2020 it was used to watch over the food operations of the Dubai site’s restaurants, food halls and staff canteens.
Food outlets are monitored to ensure they work to the highest possible sustainability criteria, ensuring the appropriate things are composted, for example, but also to streamline the distribution of surplus food stock to people in need via the UAE Food Bank.
As the programme expands to national level, the Replate tech will be used to connect donors to organisations and people in need, as well as track the environmental impact of donations.
The move, according to MOCCAE, is to further enhance the sustainability of food systems in the UAE, and strengthen the Emirates’ food security.
Food security has been an overarching concern for UAE lawmakers for some time. It’s vast swathes of desert have led to a high dependency on imported food.
As well as reducing food waste, many foodtech and agritech solutions are currently being developed to turn such regions into fertile farming land.
Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Minister of Climate Change and Environment said: “Reduction of food waste is among the main pillars of food security. MOCCAE works closely with its strategic partners from the public and private sectors to drive the adoption of sustainable food production and consumption practices. We are pleased to work with Expo 2020 Dubai on the programme that repurposes food produced at the exhibition site.
“This will ensure a considerable reduction in food waste levels and optimise the use of food surplus by channelling it to those in need, which supports efforts to enhance food security and consolidate Expo’s position as a sustainability-oriented international platform.”