UX Challenge: Waste Food Pickup


Preface: We have many organizations that can efficiently recycle leftover food or redistribute it to the needy. But these organizations don’t have decent pickup means that will bring the food to them. We have many food delivery services like UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, etc., but we don’t have a similar service that picks up the leftover food. There are primarily two categories that produce leftover food in different quantities.

  1. Household food wastage
  2. Large event (weddings, corporate events, hotels) food wastage.

Both require different approaches to solve the problem of leftover pickup.

Problem: No efficient pickup services exist for leftover food.

Challenge: Design a service that addresses either household or large event food wastage pickup. You may take on both the problems.

Please follow the following guidelines to solve the UX challenge:

  1. Reply to this post if you need more clarification
  2. Design the experience first.
  3. What would the alternate universe look like where this problem never existed. You need to narrow down to the scope of the problem

[Image Credit: North American Initiative on Food Waste Reduction and Recovery]


I envision the new service with three principal parts:

  1. Collection: Collect the excess food from households or venues
  2. Storage: Temporarily store the food before it is redistributed for next steps.
  3. Redistribution: Redistribute the stored food for recycling or donating to the poor.

The services I design will focus on the collection part of the business as per the ask.
The collection service will be a front end client in the form of either a mobile/desktop app or a toll free number.
For app this would be UX for households that have excess food:

  1. Open the app
  2. Tap on request food pickup
  3. The service will connect the household to the closest available agent who will come to pick up the excess food.
  4. Once the agent arrives, the household gives the excess food to be taken away to the storage facility.

Monetization: Hard to think of monetization at this point, but the households probably could donate a small amount at each pickup. I am assuming the monetization will make more sense between this service and the organizations that will take the excess food.


I approached this challenge first by researching current transportation options and how food waste is currently being disposed of in communities.

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, between 30-40% of the U.S. food supply goes to waste in the year 2010. That food gets transported to landfills which produces methane, becoming the 3rd largest source of methane in the U.S.
NYC Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge to Restaurants states that if New York City’s largest restaurants chose to not distribute at least 5% their food waste to landfills, it would reduce the city’s commercial food waste by 14%, where currently less than 1% is diverted from landfills.

The Problem says there is no efficient pickup service for leftover food. How do we address this?

An application that allows you to get in touch with local food pantries/shelters. This app would allow these main actions:

  1. Find a food pantry near you.
  2. Enter the quantity/weight of food.
  3. Send request for pickup.
  4. Track food pantry truck/van to arrival.
  5. Get an instant receipt to save for tax deductions.

These 5 easy steps can benefit so many people in need of food and can reduce the amount of food waste we see entering landfills across America. This is an initiative that needs education and promotion. Creating an app isn’t enough on it’s own to reduce the amount of food waste in landfills, we need to educate the American population to know about alternative solutions and find ways to get people motivated to helping a greater cause. The instant receipt for a tax deduction is a great start to getting people incentives to donating their leftovers. This would also only work if food pantries have drivers and vehicles available during the requested time. Restaurants usually close late, and large group events can take place at any hour and include weekends which would inquire that drivers be willing to stay out late or work weekends. This is something the pantries and shelters would have to consider when working with making this application a reality.


@halebales24 Hi Haley, great answer to this challenge. Have you thought of working on this idea. You seem passionate about it.