E-MA | GSA*Liveworks

Challenge

Reducing food waste at the consumption stage.

The food supply chain is responsible for 30% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This environmental damage not only has a major impact on the natural environment, but also leads to a gradual depletion of natural resources and affects our food production. If we can’t produce enough food, the problems outweigh rising food costs, food scarcity and unsustainable ecosystems.

Yet more than 40% of the world’s food is thrown away yearly, with the UK throwing away 10 million tonnes of food per year, which equates to 6.5 million meals and could provide 10 meals per year for every citizen. The largest amount of food waste is at the consumption stage (14.7%).

Approach

Enable consumers to make informed decisions and re-build connection with food.

To gain a better understanding of the food system, I interviewed various experts in the food supply chain and consumers. Working with target users and retail staff, we co-created and tested a prototype of the service, identified key behavioural trigger points and designed a new customer journey. I finally chose how to work with retail to help consumers re-establish their relationship with food and foster new consumer behaviours for a sustainable food future, considering the investment costs and the premise of the current retail model.

They stated that the future sustainable food system needs to focus on transparency, traceability, and sustainability. When it comes to food waste, retailers have more power and responsibility than consumers. Providing consumers with effective information about food is what will enable them to make better choices. The greater the consumers’ ability to recognize food’s value, the more conscious they will be of their consumption and the less food they will waste.

I then spent time interviewing various consumers, collaborating to understand their needs and barriers, and I targeted a group of pioneer users who are focused on sustainable consumption and demand to buy food that also meets health needs, is environmentally friendly, and is affordable. However, the lack of visibility of the environmental impact of food, as well as a lack of sustainable options, made this decision difficult for them.

Outcome

A service to foster consumer & food supply chain into a sustainable future.

E-MA is a food supply chain environmental impact assessment tool, it designed to assist consumers in making informed decisions and re-establishing a connection with food during their food shopping experience.

The service calculates the supply chain carbon footprint of food products, assigning each product an environmental impact score and labelling it with the relevant colour. Consumers can use the labels to quickly identify foods that have different environmental impacts and make better choices for their health and the environment.

E-MA enables consumers to make more informed decisions about the future of food by making the food supply chain more transparent. It also enables food retailers to use their power more effectively and to be more socially responsible. It reduces supermarket food waste while encouraging a transformation in the food industry supply chain toward a more sustainable food future.

Impact

In a short term, E-MA enables consumers to make more informed decisions and build better connections with food.

In the mid-term, it encourages the food supply chain and retailers to shift to a more transparent model, achieving SBT.

In a long term, E-MA responds to the Economic Circular Economy Bill being launched by the Scottish Government lately, making a small positive impact on a 10-year economic transformation strategy implementation.

 

A speculative lens to look at the relationship of climate crisis and food system

Future shopping scenario with E-MA

Product carbon impact guidance

E-impact labels

Food product with carbon impact label

Food supply chain carbon footprint information & impact score

Love food story

consumption impact report

Target User behavior barriers

E-MA

Service Journey

Service System Mapping

Engagement tool 1

Master project presentation_Nianxi Wu