Wastewatchers and Transition Surplus Food Project were selected as winners by the expert jury, and Zero Waste Aiud gathered over 17,000 votes to win the Public Award!

Following the conclusion of an exciting public voting period from 01 February to 28 February, the REFRESH project is pleased to announce the winners of the REFRESH Food Waste Solution Contest:

Transition Surplus Food Project:  The jury was drawn to the Transition Surplus Food Project by its integrated concept, inspirational qualities and concrete action delivering quantified results. This grassroots initiative implements food waste reduction as an integrated part of a larger sustainability concept including behavior changes and building new community structures. The approach connects the use of surplus food from local entrepreneurs with a palette of opportunities to preserve it for human consumption, and diverting left-over food resources – where safe for animals - for production of animal feed or for anaerobic digestion. It is an innovative approach in combining social, commercial, environmental and valorisation options to reduce food waste across the supply chain, which reflects the REFRESH core objectives. The model has shown replicability across Europe, which convinced the jury of Transition Surplus Food Project’s realization potential and future impact.

Wastewatchers Wastewatchers convinced the jury as a well-designed, innovative intervention seeking to work with businesses in the hospitality sector to understand and reduce food waste from a business case perspective. This start-up helps businesses understand how reducing food waste is in their own best interest, combining financial sense with sustainability for hospitality businesses. Understanding real-life practice and linking to measurable actions, Wastewatchers successfully connects hospitality and food service businesses with food waste reduction measures. Especially innovative is the engagement of support for food waste interventions across the whole company, from CEOs to kitchen staff. The jury found this approach particularly persuasive from the perspectives of realization potential and future impact. Taking a measurements-based, analytical approach to investigate opportunities to reduce food waste reflects the REFRESH approach on business engagement, transparency and evaluation of impact against a baseline.

Zero Waste Aiud collects unsold produce from the Aiud market and redistributes the food to needy families in the city. To win the Public Award, the Zero Waste Aiud team started a viral social media campaign, published online comics, printed posters, and distributed flyers to local restaurants, schools, and canteens. The initiative was picked up by Romanian news sites, featured on Romanian television, and gained the support of Romanian authors and celebrities, who helped the initiative reach over 17,000 votes to win the contest.

The 47 finalists of the REFRESH Food Waste Solution Contest put in an inspiring effort to activate their supporters through media campaigns, mailings, social media activities, flyering, presentations at events, and more. Over 61,000 valid votes were cast in the contest in total, demonstrating how much attention is on the issue of food waste reduction and valorisation today.

The REFRESH web team monitored and analysed the site visits, votes, and social media coverage throughout the public voting period to avoid potential abuse influencing the outcome.

The award ceremony for all Contest winners took place at the REFRESH Food Waste 2017 Conference on 18 May in Berlin. Winners were also invited to participate in a Food Waste Innovation Incubator Day on 19 May, which REFRESH organised with the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Food Waste Innovators Network (FoodWIN, formerly FSE Network).