AI bin tracks restaurant rubbish to cut food waste

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An AI-powered bin that tells chefs the types of food they are throwing away too often has been launched in a bid to cut down waste and save restaurants money.

Winnow Vision uses a camera and smart scales to recognise and keep track of the food items that are being disposed of, helping commercial kitchens reduce the amount they purchase.

Food waste is an environmental concern across the world, with 1.9 million tonnes of food and drink wasted by the food industry in the UK alone, and more than half of it is avoidable, figures from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) suggest.

Winnow Vision AI-powered bin
Winnow Vision learns to identify food items being binned (Winnow/PA)

The AI bin has already been tested in a number of kitchens, including in 23 Ikea restaurants.

Machine learning is used to help the appliance recognise the foods being thrown away, with some assistance from kitchen staff during initial training to identify items from the menu.

Marc Zornes, chief executive of Winnow, said: “Food waste is a global issue, and one that kitchens around the world are struggling with.

“Without visibility into what is being wasted, kitchens are wasting far more food than they think.

“By understanding and reporting food waste’s very real costs – both to the bottom line and the environment – Winnow Vision empowers chefs to take action.

“Using technology that learns and improves with each use, Winnow Vision has the ability to tackle food waste on a global scale.”

Winnow Vision AI-powered bin
The Winnow Vision AI-powered bin is already being used in several Ikea kitchens (Winnow)

With 75 already installed, the company is planning to roll out hundreds more of the devices this year.

Lorena Lourido, country food manager at Ikea UK and Ireland, said: “At Ikea, we want to inspire and enable the many people to change their behaviour when it comes to food waste, starting in our own operations.

“Winnow Vision has now been installed across 23 Ikea UK and Ireland stores and the feedback from the Ikea food teams running our restaurant kitchens has been extremely positive so far.”

Chris Price