Yellow fridges are a great anti-waste solution!

Posted on 26 January 2018.

The start-up collects any meals not served in company canteens and gives them away. A clever solution that helps tackle food waste.

Canteens waste a lot of food. According to ADEME (the French agency for the environment and energy management), collective catering is responsible for wasting 540,000 tonnes of food every year in France – that’s more than 1 million meals lost!

Recovering food waste

To fight this particular source of food waste, the “yellow fridge” (lefrigojaune) start-up set up in 2016 by Laurence Kerjean, found a very clever solution. A yellow fridge for the meals not eaten at lunch, which employees can then take for free.
What leftovers are we talking about? As explained by the start-up on its website, there are three main types of food waste in the context of collective catering: waste generated upstream such as peelings, food left on the plate, and unsold items such as the leftovers from buffets and plates of raw vegetables. It’s these last ones concern lefrigojaune.
At the end of the food service, the catering provider packs the unsold food in doggy bags – in fact yellow boxes - which are placed in the fridge. In the evening, company employees can take what they want for free – either to use at home or to give to someone in need - on a first come, first served basis. Lefrigojaune does not let people reserve or choose the contents of the yellow box - only the fact that is a starter / main dish / dessert is shown. A plus is that the yellow boxes are made in France and are fully recyclable too.

A turnkey service

Lefrigojaune offers a subscription to companies, which gives them access to a turnkey service ("fridge as a service"). In return for a monthly payment, the lefrigojaune team is responsible for delivering, installing and cleaning the fridge every day. It also ensures no box is ever discarded since it works with local partners to give any boxes not taken to food redistribution organizations, animal welfare organizations, or composting organizations. The start-up also promotes the scheme to the employees of the companies with which it works and provides quarterly updates about its social and environmental impact.

What is interesting for its customers is that this simple yellow fridge is both a great project for employees (and for the environment!) and a way of fulfilling the legal obligations regarding food waste. The Grenelle II law  now requires large companies to include information about "how the company takes the social and environmental consequences of its activity into account" and its commitment to sustainable development in the management report. Passed in February 2016, the Garot law adds the requirement to specify the action being taken to combat food waste.
In fact, since these two laws were passed, initiatives - along the same lines as lefrigojaune - aimed at reducing food waste in restaurants, supermarkets, businesses and public organizations have multiplied and are creating virtuous local food waste recovery loops.