Revittle Teams Up with Carnegie Mellon University and Ahold-Delhaize to Address the Food Waste Issue in America

Revittle and a class of graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University (Go Tartans!) joined forces with Ahold-Delhaize to combat the Food Waste issue in America. The students have been busy analyzing possible food waste in the supply chain throughout Ahold-Delhaize’s facilities all semester and are determining viable solutions for Ahold-Delhaize to implement across their corporation. Everyone involved is looking forward to their findings and solutions during final presentations at the end of the semester. We thank Ahold-Delhaize for their time and giving the students the opportunity to tour their facilities in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The video below gives you a drone’s-eye view of the facility they toured.

Update: May 16, 2018

The graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University have completed their project for the semester and we are very excited about their final solutions. Below, you can read their executive summary which gives an overall explanation of their project.

"Americans continue to throw out 40% of food each year, despite the fact that 1 in 6 of us do not know where our next meal will come from. The purpose of Carnegie Melon's Integrated Product Development project was to develop a viable method for reducing food waste in the United States. This report covers the background research, product design, development process, user testing, and economic justification for our proposed solution. Initial research revealed social, economic, and technological trends spanning the journey from product harvest to grocery store shelf or landfill. Combined with contextual inquiry in the form of grocery store and distribution center visits, this research highlighted a large number of manual and qualitative tasks that occur during the preservation process. This illuminated an opportunity to reduce food waste by improving the inventory management process in food distribution centers. A Value Opportunity Analysis (VOA) was conducted, leading to a shift from focusing on the visibility of the progression of food decay to achieving longer product shelf life and providing a greater window of time for donation unsalable yet edible food. Product requirements were generated, followed by an ideation phase, application of constraints, and concept refinement.

Our solution is the Fresh n' Easy™ board, an ethylene-absorbing board that slides in and out of the shelving units above produce storage at food distribution centers. Ethylene is a gas that is emitted by produce as it ripens. The gas has a positive feedback loop and its presence accelerates the ripening process further. Our board features packets of zeolites that absorb ethylene gas. The ethylene rises, aided by the ventilation system, and is able to penetrate the semipermeable membrane of the Fresh n' Easy™ zeolite pouch. The boards can be easily changed every ten days, and can be used for all types of ethylene-producing produce.

Implementation of the Fresh n' Easy™ board is expected to provide greater consistency in freshness preservation. Trials were conducted at Restaurant Depot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As Ian McPherson, the warehouse produce section manager stated, "This solution is awesome! I think it really could make a difference. It is a simple way to squeeze more out of the food that we already have." Not only will this solution reduce the amount of food waste but by slowing the ripening process, the solution will extend the window of time that the distribution center has to donate foods that are unsalable yet still edible.

The Fresh n' Easy™ board is a cost-effective way to reduce product shrinkage with easy integration into a distribution center setting. The parts and manufactuing of the board cost only $6.03, so the board can be sold with a 40% margin for $8.44. The zeolites and polylactic maintenance required is minimal, and the design was experimentally verified to show an increase in product longevity by one day for strawberries. In addition, our product requires little technical knowledge or complicated training. Use of the Fresh n' Easy board supplements existing freshness preservation methods including cold chain adherence and ceiling-based ventilation, reducing product shrinkage due to overripe produce."

We are very proud of the Carnegie Mellon graduate students and can not wait to see what they accompish next.

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