New website tries to tackle food waste

Students could save money and help to eliminate food waste in local restaurants by logging onto “zeropercent.us”:http://zeropercent.us, a new website that launched Wednesday.

Zero Percent is calling businesses to discount excess food and post offers on the website, instead of throwing away unused food.

Adam Carney, one of the co-founders of Zero Percent, said the service is currently free for restaurants to use. IHOP, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jamba Juice, Fire Station, One World Pizza, Papa Del’s and Bo Bo China are local eateries that are involved with this project, Carney said.

“We narrowed down the focus to food waste because it was something that we could tackle,” he said.

The site was started in May and began testing its services during the summer, offering discounted prices of food that would otherwise be thrown out, Carney said.

“The zero concept really means that they are going towards maximizing efficiency in that any time they have anything they would be throwing away or anything that would be going to waste, they can match demand using this system,” he added.

David Fries, general manager at Fire Station, said the restaurant was one of the first businesses to join the Zero Percent community team.

He said the number of people coming to the restaurant has already increased.

“I could tell business was picking up in the summer,” he said. “I knew it was working.”

Fries said this initiative is “fantastic” for businesses to aim for zero percent waste. Also, the project proves advantageous for college students to rush in on food specials.

Rajesh Karmani, one of the other co-founders of the project, said he wanted to utilize social media to help businesses allocate their extra food.

“We see Zero Percent for other businesses as an option, as an incentive system to help them declare their excess inventory,” Karmani said.

He said businesses can expect slow days where they have prepared more food than what actually sells. By offering discounts on food, businesses still get revenue off of what they sell with this site, he added.

Fire Station, for example, had extra dough on the day the site launched and sold discounted breadsticks, which sold well to students and residents, Fries said.

He added that restaurants should be reminded that they are here for the students.

“We should be here for the community, part of the college student base,” Fries said.

Karmani said the project is marketed through the website, Facebook, Twitter and a television display on Sixth and Green streets.

He said some businesses are already donating their excess food to food pantries and other organizations, but that these are still groups that Zero Percent would like to team up with.

Carney said he does not consider this initiative, however, a “green” endeavor.

“To me, green means false promises,” Carney said. “This isn’t about false promises. This is about actually cutting waste.”

He said the next step for the team is possibly to make an application for grocery stores to cut food waste as well. Carney added that the team behind Zero Percent is only responsible for providing the medium, but that everyone must pitch in the effort to make this successful.

“It seems like a pretty impossible task — ending all restaurant food waste,” Carney said. “Our tagline is ‘together we can cut waste.’ I’m looking forward to showing people that you can do that.”