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Food Connect: Preventing Food Waste with Electric Cargo Bikes

By Adam Marsal

Food Connect is an organisation that saves expired food, which is no longer saleable but still in a good condition, from being wasted. To deliver the food to community fridges, the team of six helpers use strong eCargo bikes with a payload of 250 kg.

Meet Ritchie Dixon from Milton Keynes located about 80 km northwest of London. The city was founded in the 60s to relieve housing congestion in the UK’s capital. This new town was to be the biggest yet settlement with a target population of 250,000 inhabitants, which was nearly achieved.

Ritchie Dixon works for a Food Connect project that is responsible for distributing expired food to people in need. In order to deliver the goods in time, Ritchie rides an eCargo bike powered by the Bosch motor that enables him to carry up to 250 kilograms. At the age of 54, Ritchie rides every working day and gets a salary for the job he likes as he spends his time outside and believes to help fellow people in need.

According to United Nations estimations, 1,6 billion tons of food are wasted annually, which is roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption. General wasting has dramatic consequences such as soil depletion and water resources diminishing.

This led to the launching of a new project that has started in Milton Keynes during the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2021. Within a year, six new green jobs similar to Ritchie Dixon’s were created and the newly established crew saved 240 tons of food from being wasted. The amount represents over 575,000 meals altogether. Delivering that much food by e-bikes protected our atmosphere from 8 tons of emissions.

Instead of throwing it away, the team of workers including Ritchie deliver the food to community fridges known as food hubs. People in need are encouraged to get food for free by using these hubs. Everybody entering the hubs can take as many as ten items from the public fridges per day. Any visitor can rely on finding enough food at the location, no matter the time of day.

According to Helen Innes from the Hubbub organisation that runs the network, the hubs proved to be a viable solution to share a lot of food that would otherwise have been disposed of. The most difficult part was inventing a logistic behind collecting and distributing expired food to the hubs. Because of time pressure, the food must be delivered as fast as possible, which is an excellent opportunity for eCargo bike usage. Within a 10-km range, the eCargo bikes proved to be the quickest means of transport. On top of that, they contribute to the reduction of general emission production.