Every other Saturday, I volunteer at a nonprofit that is very dear to my heart. Emeryville Citizenship Assistance Program (ECAP) is a food bank that distributes food waste from large food branches like Trader’s Joe to those in need.
I love volunteering at ECAP because it has more than one impact. It both feeds the community and prevents edible food from being wasted. Most of the food that we receive is only slightly imperfect: a dented can of beans, a spoiled orange in a bag with twenty good ones, or a delicious-looking cake that’s about to expire. Stores cannot sell these flawed foods. If it were not for ECAP, they’d probably end up in the trash.
This is a huge problem. Every year, 31% of the American food supply — worth $161 billion dollars — goes to waste. All the water, energy, and nutrients used to make this food were spent for nothing. This increases the pressure on water and land resources, and the waste ends up contributing to pollution and carbon dioxide emissions — exacerbating global warming.
But the problem can become an opportunity. Just as ECAP gives a new purpose to discarded food, some startups understand that it can be a good source of revenue.
The startup Too Good To Go, valued at $1 billion, sells food stores don’t want at reduced prices to consumers. Stores make money, customers get food at discounted prices, and the startup takes its cut. Between 2015 and 2020, Too Good to Go saved 86,747 tons of carbon dioxide.
Perfekto has the same ambition in Latin America. It is a grocery subscription company selling food that is unwanted due to cosmetic imperfections, short shelf lives, or labeling and inventory errors.
When food isn’t edible anymore, composting can redirect the nutrients toward the ground. Blue Earth Compost makes composting easy and accessible to buildings and businesses.
Reducing waste — or giving it a second life — is one of the best things we can do both for the planet and for food security across the world. It’s also a growing market, and startups are not wasting the opportunity. Will you?
Read more to discover other impact investing opportunities from December 2022.
Top Impact Investing Companies
The world needs to increase the growth of new renewable power to reach our net-zero target. Every inch of solar panel matters, and SolarGaps’ technology can help us increase the solar energy we use in buildings. The startup makes smart solar blinds that generate energy from the sun, convert the energy, and send it to the grid. SolarGaps’ solution can power different home appliances and decrease energy consumption. It has more than 20 distributors and already had more than 300 large installations.
At the height of COVID-19, most of the United States population wore single-use masks. What was a sanitary necessity also created a tremendous amount of waste. The world produced 52 billion single-use face masks in 2020, all becoming garbage after a day or so of use. Worse, an estimated 1.6 billion masks entered the ocean that same year. Canopy produces a sustainable alternative to single-use masks. Its award-winning product is form-fitting, safe, comfortable, and suitable for both frontline workers and consumers.
Composting is a great way to give a second life to inedible peels, seeds, or spoiled food. But it is easier to do when you have your own garden. For apartment dwellers and businesses, finding a place to quickly dispose of smelly compost can be challenging. Blue Earth Compost is making composting accessible to homes, businesses, and municipalities. It provides waste collection services, guidance, and containers to help clients separate food waste from their trash stream. Blue Earth Compost already diverted 20 million pounds of waste and has a 98% customer retention rate.
Other Impact Investing Companies
Qnetic has developed an energy storage system that is sustainable, low cost, and lasts a long time. It takes in electricity, converts it into kinetic energy, and stores it as momentum with very low energy loss. Qnetic’s system is a solution to solar and wind power intermittency and aims to aid in transitioning civilization to sustainable energy.
Food and Agriculture
Perfekto offers a subscription box for imperfect food directly from producers in Mexico. Consumers save time and money while reducing food waste. Perfekto has more than 3,000 monthly active subscribers and delivers more than 6,000 boxes per month.
Moriondo sells espresso machines and proprietary coffee blends with no aluminum or plastic pod waste. Moriondo’s machines replicate the coffee shop experience at home. Moriondo has generated $1.9 million in lifetime revenue and prevented waste from more than 7 million coffee pods to date.
Applied Bioplastics is commercializing low-cost, cellulose-based biopolymers as a substitute for standard plastic. Applied Bioplastics’ raw materials are less expensive than traditional plastic. They are made and used in the same equipment utilized by the entire plastics industry — which means there should be no barriers to wide adoption.
Brights Build aims to revolutionize the construction industry by combining architectural creativity with 3D-printing technology. The combination of technologies enables Brights Build to create economically and ecologically efficient homes, commercial spaces, and multi-family units.
Von Perry is a construction automation company that uses its proprietary products and project delivery software for consolidating 3D-printing construction processes. Von Perry’s processes increase the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of home building and reduce costs by 20% to 30%.
Mediloq sells reusable, child-safe containers for storage in outdoor recreation. It is also developing a business-to-business model that replaces single-use plastics with reusable containers for medicine, supplements, and more.
CrowdSolve is a platform helping climate change innovators and entrepreneurs develop their startups. Users go through a series of educational modules called Blox, and they receive guidance from experienced mentors.
MySky ECO is re-engineering its aircraft, MySky MS-1L, into an eco-friendly version that emits less pollution. MySky ECO plans execute a five-step plan to realize net-zero aviation emissions, and this is the first step.
Aptera Motors is making solar-powered electric vehicles with higher energy efficiency, better manufacturing efficiency, and lower costs. Its three-wheel cars can go up to 40 miles charged by the sun and 1,000 miles charged by the grid.
REVO Powertrains’ technology, Powertrain-in-a-Crate kits, turns pre-existing trucks and buses into electric vehicles. Its business model involves selling kits to customers through existing dealerships and service centers.
As a liaison and project manager, Envirosult is on a mission to bridge the gap between available government funding and small communities that desperately need clean drinking water, safe environments, and betterinfrastructure. Envirosult believes 60,000 U.S. communities could benefit from its help.
DonorSee is a platform that makes donating as transparent and direct as possible. Donors can watch videos that show projects they can donate to and can see updates of their donations in action, so they know just how they made a difference.