Food Waste

Knowle West Media Centre held a four-month leadership programmes called ‘The Change Creators’, inviting eleven young adults aged 18-25 to follow The Bristol Approach to develop a social campaign towards an issue they cared about. The group chose to tackle the high levels of food waste in Bristol using data and sensing technology.

KWMC is an arts organisation and charity in Bristol which is making thriving communities together using arts, technology and care.


The team identified that whilst there was lots of big data about food waste trends, this was not tangible and not personal to individuals.

They believed that if citizens were aware of the own individual food waste trends, this would influence citizens to change their daily habits and reduce their own levels of food waste.


The group created a campaign called ‘Wastey Food’. They wanted to ensure that people weren’t confused by food labelling and understood the difference between ‘sell by’, ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates.

The group had lots of questions: can we sense if food is going out of date? Could a label change colour if the food omits a gas, or a re-useable container start to react when food is going out of date? How often are food bins being opened and closed and when? How far does food travel to be disposed of?


They collaborated with creative technologists Altitude Tech to develop working prototypes (commons tools), which would enable them to collect the data required.

The team co-created the idea to develop a ‘SMART bin’, later named ‘Food Boy’. Food Boy was designed to collect household data about:

  • The type of food wasted
  • The time of day food was wasted
  • The amount of food wasted


As part of the ‘Wastey Food’ campaign, the team collaborated with food waste projects via social media and attended local ‘reducing food waste’ events.

They also made adverts asking for local people to test out their prototype of ‘Food Boy’ by using it as their food waste bin for 1-2 weeks. After, the data and information about their weekly food waste habits would be collected.


The team met with Bristol City council to take learnings from their ‘Wastey Food’ food waste campaign and utilise the open data collected on the city’s habits.


The team successfully raised awareness of food waste across Bristol. They collected tangible and usable data in a playful and engaging way which helped to improve understanding of waste plus provide Bristol City council with the data needed to spark change. The participants themselves also took part in workshops building their confidence and skills in leadership, creative technology, business and activism.

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