Addressing climate change by helping businesses donate surplus food and reduce waste
Growing up in Syria, Maen Mahfoud and his family built relationships with their community by delivering their extra food to neighbors who faced various challenges. When he later moved to the Bay Area, he was shocked to see high rates of food insecurity while, at the same time, businesses were sending substantial amounts of surplus food to landfills. This waste negatively impacts our health, environment, and economy. Inspired to build a better system, Mahfoud launched Replate in 2016 with the goal of reducing waste and improving access to nutritious food. Using a web-based app, Replate helps businesses easily and reliably donate their surplus food to community-based organizations and make data-informed decisions that reduce waste. To date, Replate has helped 1,500 businesses divert over 3.6 million pounds of surplus food from the landfill to those who need it. This effort has prevented the production of over 3,600 tons of CO2 emissions and saved more than 985 million gallons of water.
Many companies want to do good. Our goal is to make doing good easy for businesses. – Maen Mahfoud
- One in five Californians — nearly 8 million people — are experiencing food insecurity, with deep disparities for Black and Latino Californians.
- Meanwhile, Californians throw away nearly six million tons of surplus food each year.
- Food waste exacerbates the climate change crisis. When food is wasted, so is the energy and water used to grow, process, transport, and prepare it. Food waste also produces emissions and toxic air pollutants that negatively impact our health and environment.
- Replate’s technology dispatches drivers to collect and redistribute surplus food from participating businesses to community-based organizations (CBOs) that are registered to receive donations.
- Businesses — ranging from small restaurants to large technology companies — pay a sliding-scale fee to use Replate’s app to request a one-time or recurrent pick-up of surplus food. The app tracks the social and environmental impacts of their donations, enabling businesses to make smart decisions that curb food waste, save money, and improve community
- CBOs that request a no-cost delivery through the Replate app can indicate the type and quantity of food they would like to receive and when it should be delivered. This on-demand service enables CBOs to respect their client’s food choices and alleviates the burden of storage or redistribution of the food they can’t immediately use.
- Since 2016, Replate has helped 1,500 businesses rescue 3.6 million pounds of surplus food that would have gone to landfills by providing easy and reliable pick-up services.
- Using Replate’s data insights, businesses have reduced their surplus food and even the frequency of pick-ups. One client reduced their donations from roughly 1,000 surplus meals per week in early 2022 to fewer than 300 surplus meals per week at year-end.
- Replate’s drivers have delivered over 3 million meals to people experiencing food insecurity through partnerships with more than 300 CBOs.
- Replate’s efforts to divert surplus food to forks rather than landfills has prevented the production of more than 3,600 tons of CO2 emissions — that’s equivalent to planting 59,526  The organization has also saved 985 million gallons of water — which is the annual amount used by 12,300 households. 
- California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law — Senate Bill 1383 (2020) —requires major food producers to recover surplus food for human consumption. Replate is well-positioned to help businesses — such as grocery stores, hotels, and event venues — to comply with the law and to help deliver their food surplus to people who need it most.
- Replate’s current operations are focused in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, but the organization aims to expand their reach to other California regions in the near term.
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