UC Berkeley students launch startup to combat food waste

By the DeWaste Team

UC Berkeley students launch startup to combat food waste

When co-founders Paran Sonthalia, Pranshu Bansal, and Daniel Ciao saw the amount of food that was getting wasted in their college dining halls, they knew they had to do something about it. They realized that this was not just a problem on UC Berkeley’s campus, but worldwide.

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The DeWaste Team in October 2019

So began these students’ development of the DeWaste Excess, a product that uses advanced machine learning and computer vision algorithms to track and analyze food waste by using images. Smartphones mounted in the dish return rack assess food waste by automatically snapping photos of each used plate; the data are analyzed every evening and the raw data and insights on what to change are uploaded to the dining hall’s dashboard early next morning. This technology has been used at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, with additional universities lined up for this fall. In theory, the technology is applicable beyond universities, including all-you-can-eat dining halls in corporate settings, large institutions, and more.

After seeing early success with the DeWaste Excess, the team started development on the DeWaste Kitchen, a technology that was in high demand from the restaurant and cafeteria industries. The DeWaste Kitchen is a waste management solution for kitchen prep that comprises a scanning platform where chefs can place a batch of food waste before throwing it away. In a 2-second process, the DeWaste Kitchen will photograph, weigh, and predict the reason for the waste. Using this product, all commercial kitchens can reduce their food waste significantly and make their production processes more efficient. This product is set to be used at YUM Brands (owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell) in the very near future.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, food waste has become a huge obstacle. Widespread commercial lockdown has resulted in a broken food supply chain and erratic asynchronies of demand and supply throughout the world. Literally tons of food are being thrown away because producers are unable to sell their food to wholesalers who are out of business. The founders of DeWaste came up with an innovative solution to help combat the rise in food waste. The DeWaste Network bridges the gap between food producers and purchasers by helping them connect using a simple marketplace platform. It is completely free to use with no payment or registration requirements. It can be accessed here: https://de-waste.com/network/.

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DeWaste team presentation at the Cal Hacks Opening Ceremony

For the DeWaste team to make it this far didn’t come without its obvious challenges. The team has been incredibly scrappy and done its utmost to save money and reduce unnecessary costs to their end consumer. The whole goal is to reduce food waste in as many places as possible. As Sonthalia, CEO of DeWaste, puts it, “All we want to do is help the world be a cleaner place with less food waste, and the only way we can help do that is by making this product affordable for everyone.”

The Bay Area environmental nonprofit Acterra is an active member in the movement to cut food waste and works to support effective initiatives in homes, workplaces, and communities through its Healthy Plate, Healthy Planet program. DeWaste is an innovative solution for reducing food waste and Acterra is glad to recognize the bright future of this creative program.

Read more about DeWaste here: https://de-waste.com

Check out DeWaste’s solutions here: http://de-waste.com/solution_deck.pdf

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